Skip to main content

Full text of "France under Louis XV"

See other formats
















%, *• 




France under louis xv. 







15 Waterloo Place 


7"-** Riverside Press^ Cambridge ^ Mass., U. S. A. 
Printed by H. O. Houghton & Company. 


The Condition of France. 

Character of Government 1 

Authority of the King 2 

Etiquette of the Court 4 

Amusements at Court ....... 6) 

Adulation of the King 

Number of Attendants . 9 

Character of Louis XV 11 

Expenses of the Government 14 

Perquisites of Officials 15 

Choice of Ministers 17 

Superintendents 19 

Lack of Local Government 20 

Authority of the Parliament 22 ■ 

Influence of the Nobility 25\ 

Provincial Nobility 25 1 

Nobility of the Court 27 

Their Pecuniary Embarrassments 29 

Their Privileges 31 

Amount of Pensions 32 I 

Exemption from Taxation ^3_^ 

Wealthy Bourgeois 34 

Nature of the Peasantry 36 

Number of the Peasantry 38 

Amount of Land held by them 40 

Taxation imposed upon them 41 

Their Bad Condition 44 

Improvement in their Condition 46 


The Ministry of the Duke of Bourbon. 


Early Career of Fleury 48 

The Duke of Bourbon 61 

His Appointment as Prime Minister .... 52 

His Character ......... 53 

Abdication of Philip V 54 

His Return to the Throne 56 

Dismissal of the Spanish Infanta ..... 57 

Louis XV. 's Marriage decided on 58 

Selection of Marie Leszczynski 62 

Marriage of the King ........ 63 

Condition of the Huguenots 65 

Revolt of the Camisards • 67 

Huguenots treated with more Leniency .... 68 

New Edicts of Persecution 70 

Their Results 71 

Execution of Clergymen 73 

Women confined at Aigues Mortes 75 

Their Release 78 

Paris Brothers 79 

Efforts to tax Church Property 80 

Changes in the Currency ....... 82 

Organization of the Bourse 83 

Disgrace of Bourbon 85 

The Ministry of Cardinal Fleury. 


Fleury becomes Chief Minister 87 

Character of his Administration 88 

Improved Condition of Finances 89 

Currency established on a Fixed Basis .... 91 

Improvement of Highways ....... 93 

The Royal Corvee 94 


Character of the King 97 

Alliance between Spain and Austria . . . .98 

Quarrels over the Unigenitus 99 

Unpopularity of the Jesuits 102 

The Nouvelles Ecclesiastiques 103 

Quarrels with the Parliament 105 

Miracles of the Deacon Paris 107 

The War of the Polish Succession. 


Condition of Parliament 112 

Stanislaus Leszczynski 113 

His Candidacy for Reelection as King of Poland . . 114 

Bribery in the Election 115 

Election of Stanislaus 118 

Augustus III. also elected King 120 

Russians besiege Dantzic 121 

Escape of Stanislaus 123 

War between France and Austria 124 

Abdication of the King of Sardinia 125 

Character of Charles Emmanuel III 127 

Establishment of Spanish Princes in Italy .... 128 

Treaty of Turin 130 

Relations between France and Spain 131 

Injurious Effect of Spanish Alliance .... 135 

Trade Relations with Spain 138 

Character of Philip V 140 

Condition of Spain ........ 142 

Family Compact of 1733 145 

War with Austria 146 

Campaign in Italy ........ 147 

Conquest of Naples by Don Carlos 150 

Death of Villars and Berwick 152 

Negotiations for Peace 153 

The Pragmatic Sanction 154 

Cession of Lorraine 156 

Conditions of Peace 157 


Treaty of Vienna 158 

Results of the War 160 

Administration of Stanislaus in Lorraine .... 161 


The War of the Austrian Succession. 


Death of Charles VI 164 

Condition of Europe 165 

Frederick II. resolves on War 168 

Claims on Silesia . . 169 

Capture of Silesia 172 

Negotiations of Frederick 174 

Position of France 176 

Results of the War 177 

Arguments for War 179 

Claims of the Elector of Bavaria 181 

Conduct of Fleury 183 

Character of Belle Isle 184 

France decides to interfere 186 

Embassy of Belle Isle 188 

Negotiations with the Electors 190 

Battle of Mollwitz 191 

The Elector of Bavaria 193 

He invades Upper Austria 195 

Character of Maria Theresa 197 

Endeavors to make Peace with France .... 198 

Armistice made with Frederick 199 

Conduct of Frederick 200 

Capture of Prague 201 

Charles Albert declared King of Bohemia .... 203 
Frederick violates the Armistice 204 


The Emperor Charles VII. 


Election of Charles VII. as Emperor 206 

His Coronation 209 


Weakness of the Empire 212 

Capture of Linz 213 

Invasion of Bavaria 215 

Ill-success of Frederick 217 

He endeavors to make Peace 218 

Treaty of Breslau 221 

Frederick's Satisfaction over the Peace .... 222 

Consternation among the French 224 

Fleury endeavors to obtain Peace 225, 

War in Bohemia 227 

Bad Condition of the Army 229 

Belle Isle's Retreat from Prague 230 

Death of Cardinal Fleury 233 

His Character 235 

The Administration after Fleury 237 

Indifference of the King 238 

Character of the Ministers 239 

The Duchess of Chateauroux 241 

Progress of the War 244 

Maria Theresa will not make Peace .... 245 

Misfortunes of Charles VII 246 

Abandonment of Bavaria 249 

Battle of Dettingen 251 

Condition of France 254 

Louis XV. decides to take the Field 255 

Pretensions of Spain 257 

War in Italy 258 

Treaty of Worms 260 

Treaty of Fontainebleau 261 

Character of the Spanish Administration .... 263 
French Sacrifices for Spain 265 



Renewal of the War by Frederick. 


Frederick decides to renew the War .... 267 

His Negotiations with France 269 

His Relations with Mme. de Chateauroux . , . 270 



Treaties between France and Prussia . 
Charles Edward comes to France 
Preparations for an Invasion of England 

Their Failure 

Invasion of the Netherlands 

Success of the French 

Mme. de Chateau roux visits the Army 

Invasion of Lorraine 

Illness of Louis XV. at Metz 

Dismissal of Mme. de Chateauroux . 

Queen visits Metz .... 

Rejoicings over Louis's Recovery 

The Austrians cross the Rhine . 

Frederick takes up Arms 

He invades Bohemia .... 

Austrians retreat from Lorraine 

Ill-success of Frederick 

Mme. de Chateauroux restored to Favor 

Popular Indignation at this 

Death of Mme. de Chateauroux 

Death of Charles VII. 

Injudicious Policy of the French 

Character of Argenson 

His Appointment as Minister . 

His Policy 

Policy of Frederick .... 
Views of Podewils .... 
Disputes between the Allies 
Career of Maurice de Saxe . 
Commands the Army in the Netherlands 
Battle of Fontenoy .... 
Victory of the French . . . 
Victory of Frederick at Hohenfriedberg 
Complaints of Frederick . 
Peace between England and Prussia . 
Election of the Emperor Francis I. . 

Battle of Sohr 

Maria Theresa endeavors to make Peace with France 

Opposition of Argenson 

Failure of the Negotiations 

Frederick makes Peace with Austria . 



Results of the War for him 337 

Progress of the War in Italy 338 

Conduct of the Spanish 339 

Failure of Argensou's Diplomacy 340 

Death of Philip V 342 

Character of Ferdinand VI 343 

Character of the Infante 344 

The Close of the War of the Austrian Succession. 


Early Life of Mme. de Pompadour 
Becomes the Favorite of the King 
Campaign in the Netherlands 
Honors paid Maurice de Saxe . 
French Success in the Netherlands 
Battle of Roucoux . 
Condition of Austria . 
Bad Condition of French Marine 
English Success on the Sea . 
Conference in Breda 
Negotiations for Peace 
Conference at Aix-la-Chapelle 
Advance of the Russian Army 
Negotiations at Aix-la-Chapelle 
Desires of Maria Theresa . 
Views of Frederick ... 
Suggestions of Kaunitz 
Terms agreed upon 
Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle . 
Arrest of the Pretender . 
►Results of the War 






French Colonial Development 379 

Organization of the French East India Company . . 381 

Organization of a New Company 383 

Early Career of Dupleix 384 

Prosperity of Chandarnagar 385 

Dupleix made Governor-General 386 

His Eastern Policy 387 

Fortification of Pondicherri 388 

Arrival of La Bourdonnais 390 

Capture of Madras 391 

Quarrel with La Bourdonnais 392 

War with the Nawab of the Carnatic 394 

Victory of the French 396 

Influence of France in India 397 

Repulse of the English at Pondicherri .... 398 

Surrender of Madras 399 

Death of the Subahdar of the Dekkan .... 400 

Dupleix supports Mozuffer Jung 401 

Capture of Girgee 403 

Success of Mozuffer 404 

Honors bestowed on Dupleix 406 

French Influence supreme in the Dekkan .... 407 

Conduct of Bussy 409 

His Influence over Salabut 410 

Character of Bussy 411 

Further Cessions to France 413 

The English assist Mahomet Ali 414 

Capture of Arcot by Clive 416 

French Defeat at Trichinopoly 417 

Efforts of Dupleix 418 

Receives no Support in France 420 

Views of the French East India Company .... 421 

Indifference of the Public 423 

Negotiations with the English 425 

Disgrace of Dupleix 426 

His Subsequent Vicissitudes and Poverty .... 428 
His Death 429 


The Loss of an Eastern Empire. 

Arrival of Godehue 431 

Peace with England 432 

Lally ToUendal appointed Commander in India . . . 433 

His Character 434 

Arrives in India 436 

Captures Fort St. David 437 

Abandons the Dekkan 438 

Lack of Resources in India 440 

Defeated at Madras 441 

Disliked in India 443 

Desertion of the French Fleet 445 

Defeat of Wandewash 447 

Surrender of Pondicherri 448 

End of the French East India Company .... 449 
Trial and Execution of Lally 451 


The Reign of Mme. de Pompadour. 


Position of Mme. de Pompadour 464 

Her Theatre 456 

Her Talent as an Actress 457 

Her Taste in Art 468 

Use of Paint 459 

Chateaux of Mme. de Pompadour 461 

Pare aux Cerfs 462 

Her Influence on the Ministry 464 

Her Political Failure 465 

Condition of France after the War 467 

Efforts to tax the Privileged Classes .... 468 
Exemption of the Church from Taxation .... 470 
Influence of the Church in France 472 


Decline in Religious Character ...... 473 

Condition of the Lower Clergy 474 

Social Position of the Higher Clergy 476 

Their Revenues 477 

Their Modes of Life 478 

Character of the Abbe Count of Clermont . . . 482 

Small Amounts given in Charity 483 

Endeavor to tax the Clergy 484 

Failure of the Endeavor 485 

Quarrels over the Unigenitus 486 

Action of the Parliament 487 

Conduct of the Government ..;... 489 

Birth of Louis XVI 490 

Punishment of Vicars 491 

Influence of Literature 492 

Voltaire befriended by Mme. de Pompadour . . . 493 
Death of Maurice de Saxe 495 




At the close of the regency of the Duke of Orleans 
^ the old regime in France was still in full vigor : the 

government of the country, the general social and in- 
tellectual condition of the people, were such as they 
long had been. Fifty-one years later, Louis XV. 
ended his inglorious reign ; the old regime was then 
on the verge of dissolution, the beliefs and hopes of 
the French people had suffered more change than 
in the century preceding, the economical condition 
of the country had been greatly modified ; a new lit- 
erature had arisen, new ideas were found in books, 
were discussed in the salons, and were debated on 
the streets ; the demand was widespread for new 

L social conditions, for laws which should improve the 
lot of the poor, and should allow to all a greater 

freedom of thought and action. Li this altered 
society the government still preserved the same out- 
ward form, but it needed no prophet to discern that 
institutions, which seemed as firmly rooted as those 
of the Medes and Persians when Louis XIV, was 
proclaimed the Great, were nearing their end when 
Louis XV. lay on his death-bed. The French Rev- 


olution, like the other great events of history, sprang 
from no accident or sudden caprice, — a political rev- 
olution foll owed an intellectual revolution. 

Before relating the events of tEe~half century, so 
important in their effect on the French mind, it is 
well to consider the condition of France and her 
people when the death of the Duke of Orleans left 
the youthful Louis XV. the ruler of that kingdom. 
The government of France was an imlimited mon- 
archy. " In my person alone is the sovereign author- 
ity," wrote Louis XV. in 1766; "legislative power 
belongs to me alone ; public order emanates from me ; 
I am its supreme guardian." It was the same lan- 
guage that Louis XIV. had used a century before, 
and both of those monarchs correctly stated the theory 
of the government of which they were the head. New 
taxes could be imposed by the king and by him alone ; 
he could make peace and declare war ; he could pro- 
nounce new laws and disregard old laws ; his authority 
was unchecked and unshared. 

Such a form of administration would seem an abso- 
lute tyranny, as despotic as that of the Czar of Kussia 
or the Sultan of Morocco ; but despotism in a highly 
civilized state necessarily differs from despotism among 
barbarous tribes or in rude forms of society. The 
actual operation of the governing power, whatever 
may be its nominal form, depends upon the people 
over which it is exercised. The king of France, by 
his own action and moved solely by his own desire, 
could levy a tax of fifty per cent, upon the income of 
his subjects ; he could compel its registration by the 
courts of law, and his officers could legally proceed 
with its collection ; he could order the arrest of any 
person, and no court had the right to review his action 


or to release tlie prisoner ; the man might remain in 
confinement for forty years, with no legal means of 
establishing his innocence or of obtaining his liberty ; 
the king could begin unjust wars, bestow undeserved 
pensions, squander the proceeds of taxation on his 
mistresses, and it is impossible to see where there 

/ was redress for any grievance, except in the right of 

V revolution. 

On the other hand, while the royal authority was 
legally unrestrained, while it was liable to abuse and 
was often abused, practically there were many things 
which the king could not do. If he ordered a man 
without trial to be taken to the Greve and beheaded, 
those who obeyed his bidding would have been liable 
to no punishment. But he never gave such a com- 
mand ; it woidd have been so contrary to the recog- 
nized jurisdiction of the courts, to the ancient usages 
of the kingdom, that such an act could properly be 
said to be beyond his power. Innumerable privi- 
leges and local rights remained from the past, or were 
founded upon bargains made between the ruler and 
the ruled. Exemptions from many forms of taxation 
had been granted to cities, to corporations, and to 
classes; often the king failed to observe the agree- 
ments made by his predecessors or by himself, but 
usually these were respected. The church appealed to 
its divine origin for protection against the temporal 
power ; the nobility possessed privileges, coming down 
from the feudal period, which, though often injurious 
to the community, operated as a restraint upon the un- 
bridled authority of the king. The courts of justice, 
though they possessed no effective veto upon his acts, 
asserted their right of remonstr .nee, and while often 
forbidden, this continued to be exercised. In a coun- 


try where there was no right of petition, where politi- 
cal criticism was unlawful, and a reflection on the 
wisdom of the rulers constituted a crime, the remon- 
strances of the judges still furnished an opportunity 
for discussing the action of the government, without 
running the risk of a sojourn in the Bastille. Thus 
the French monarchy might be declared to be abso- 
lute, and yet, with equal truth, it might be said to be 
limited, if not by law, by customs, by privileges, by 
traditions, which the king had the power to disregard, 
but which he was sure to respect. 

A just idea cannot be formed of the character of 
the French monarchy, nor of the probability of the 
king exercising wisely his great authority, without 
considering his modes of life, his social surroundings, 
the barriers of etiquette in which he was inclosed, the 
artificial panoply in which he was encased. Ver- 
sailles, in the early part of the eighteenth century, wit- 
nessed an existence, splendid indeed, but the formality 
of which had stiffened into rigidity not unlike that of 
the courts of ancient Assyrian and Babylonian kings ; 
if its etiquette was not so benumbing as the sombre 
state of Madrid, yet it did not help a monarch to 
understand the needs of his people, nor to perform 
thi6 duties of his office. 
^ There was, perhaps, no otlier person in the world 
\ who was so constantly kept in sight, whose every act 
was attended with such publicity, as the French king. 
From his rising in the morning to his retiring at 
night, he was surrounded by a host of attendants ; he 
dressed and dined in public ; in health and sickness, 
during his devotions and. on his death-bed, he had 
about him the same multitude of courtiers. As it 
\was their business to be smiling and respectful, so it 


was his business to be smiling and affable, and neither 
king nor courtier had much time left for anything 

Who should dress and undress him, serve him at 
his table, hand hjm his^ c^e, offer hinTTiis. gloves, 
pr ay for his we lfare, pronounce upon liim heaven's 
blessing, was regulated with an anxious care. The 
disputes over such questions have been preserved for 
us ; unimportant in themselves, they are curious as 
illustrations of the customs and modes of thought of 
the time. " There has been a dispute lately," writes 
the Duke of Luynes, " because the officers of the 
buttery pretended to the right to serve the dauphin, 
when he wished to drink, to the exclusion of the 
under governor ; but it was decided they were wrong 

(^ their pretension." ^ Not only did nobles contend 
as to who should hand a glass of water to a child of 
seven, but the clergy wrangled as to the privilege of 
pronouncing grace before the king. Rather than 
waive any right, occasionally all of the holy men 
would be saying prayers at the same time.^ Thus 
perhaps the Lord was the better served. 
^ Those who were received at court there spent their 
/lives ; they listened to the sayings and watched the 
I countenance of the sovereign ; the opportunity of a 
I word with him was a sufficient reward for hours of 
1 waiting. It was not strange that this should be so. 
I From the favor of one man came rank, dignity, and 
Wealth ; the ambition of the statesman for office, the 
pal of the soldier for promotion, the desire for social 
J)rominence, the thirst for money, could all be satis- 
fied by the monarch. " He who considers," says La 
Bruyere, "that the face of the monarch causes the 
^ Memoires de Luynes^ i. 125. * /&., i. 400. 


felicity of the courtier, whose life is occupied with 
the desire of seeing him and being seen by him, may 
understand how the sight of God suffices for the glory 
and the bliss of the saints." 

The French sovereign was constantly attended by 
a great number of nobles and of humbler followers ; 
the pomp of his court has rarely been equaled and 
never excelled. All the day long an unbroken stream 
of carriages rolled between Versailles and Paris. 
Large as were the halls of the palace, they could 
not always contain the throngs that wished to enter. 
Almost every member of this multitude was a pictur- 
esque object to the eye ; the dresses of the gentlemen 
were as rich, as varied in their material and coloring, 
as those of the ladies ; they were as well furnished with 
laces and ruffles ; the gorgeous decorations of many 
orders were resplendent on the men ; a profusion of 
jewels set off the beauty of the women ; courtesy 
and grace were not often wanting in an assemblage 
where almost all were of gentle birth and studied ,t^ 
art of pleasing^rom the cradle to the grave. 

A spectator has described the appearance of the 
court on one evening, and the scenes which could 
there be witnessed on all evenings were much the 
I same. The great gallery at Versailles was lighted by 
three thousand wax candles, and the spectacle of the 
vast hall brilliantly illuminated and filled with well- 
dressed people was dazzling. There were elegant 
toilettes, and many distinguished foreigners were in 
attendance ; one hundred and forty-two ladies were 
counted in the assemblage, and the number of men 
was much larger. In the centre of the gallery the 
king played lansquenet; the Duke of Luxembourg 
had the honor of standing behind the king's chair; 


/around the table were Mme. de Pompadour, the 
I dauphin and his wife, Louis's daughters, who were 
J still young girls, and a great number of persons, all 
I distinguished in rank, though not all equally eminent 
\in morality. At the further end of the room the 
queen had her gambling-table, at which eavagnole 
was played, and a number of other tables were scat- 
tered about, one presided over by the Princess of 
Conti, and the others by persons of less distinction. 
Everybody gambled, and sometimes, as was said, even 
at the court there were some who cheated ; the queen 
was fond of play and she often lost ; gambling-debts 
were among her many embarrassments. On this 
evening she stopped about ten, at which time supper 
was served, but it was not until half-past ten that 
Louis took his place at the lansquenet-table ; at half- 
past eleven he and the queen retired, but the game 
went on. 

In this great palace, to which so many had access, 
it was hard to keep out intruders; barriers were 
placed to shut off access from the salon of Hercules 
and the salle des gardes, but still, besides the well 
dressed who were there, others not so well dressed and 
without right of entrance could be seen in the assem- 
blage. Some came for curiosity, others were attracted 
by the opportunities for theft that were furnished at 
such a place ; several tobacco-boxes were stolen, and 
the officers in the hall made two or three arrests. 
.^ If it was difficult to exclude pickpockets from the 
/palace, it was impossible to keep out the wind and 
cold. On this evening there was a good deal of wind, 
and some of the candles were blown out. The cold 
was still more annoying ; at the table where the king 
Vplayed, by reason of the crowd gathered around, the 


wind did not trouble them, but in some parts of the 
gallery it was bitterly cold.^ Thus splendor and dis- 
comfort and crime were all to be found together in 
the halls of Versailles. 

The most commonplace remark of the king was 
caught up and repeated by the courtiers as if it were 
an utterance of inspired wisdom. One day the con- 
versation turned on some peculiar funeral practices. 
"His majesty did me the honor to say," writes the 
Duke of Luynes, " ' We are not subjected to such 
ceremonies.' I felt bound to reply that only his 
majesty could think of such an event in his own case ; 
we could never even consider its possibility. ' Why 
not,' said the king, ' must not this happen ? ' One 
cannot," adds the enthusiastic duke, moved by Louis's 
admission that even he must die, — " one cannot be 
too much impressed by all the marks of piety and 
goodness in the king." When Thackeray writes in 
the ballad of " King Canute : " — 

" ' He to die ? ' resumed the Bishop. ' He a mortal like to us f 
Death was not for him intended, though communis omnibus,^ " 

we think this the sarcasm of the satirist, but many 
a polished French courtier addressed Louis XV. in 
language which differed little from that of the bishop 
of King Canute. 

/^The number of officials who surrounded the mon- 
arch was very large ; he could not go from Versailles 
Ito Marly, from the Louvre to La Muette, unless he 
Iwas accompanied by a body of attendants almost as 
/numerous as the Greek army at Thermopylae. On 
I the king's journey to Chantilly, says the chronicler, 
\there went with him over two hundred servants em- 

1 This account is given by the Duke of Luynes in his memoirs 
for 1751. 


ployed in the kitchen, besides sixty Swiss, whose busi- 
ness was to assist in serving ; in all there were seven 
hundred persons to feed.^ The pomp of a royal 
progress was not unworthy of the dignity of the 
monarch ; trumpets sounded loudly to announce his 
presence ; he was attended by bodies of gentlemen, 
proud to serve as soldiers of the king, and by com- 
panies of Swiss guards, curiously and richly dressed, 
and armed with weapons more gorgeous than useful, 
and he journeyed over the country with an amount of 
noise, dust, and display which could not have been 
exceeded by a state procession of an Assyrian or an 
Egyptian sovereign. It is not strange that a visit to 
Fontainebleau cost at least a million livres.^ The 
number of persons invested with some office or charge 
in connection with each member of the royal family 
was exceeded only by the retinue of the king. More 
than a hundred persons were required for the care of 
the dauphin when he was a child of seven.^ When 
Marie Leszczynski became the wife of Louis XV., 
over four hundred offices were at once created, to be 
filled by those devoted to her service, from ladies of 
honor to postilions and pastry cooks.* 

The description of a single ceremonial will show the 
minute punctilio of this stately and formal existence. 
When the Princess of Lichtenstein, the wife of the 
Austrian ambassador, was presented to the queen, the 
lady of honor met her at the door, and under her 
escort the princess slowly advanced towards the queen, 

1 Mem. de Luynes^ ii. 446. 

2 Ih., xvii. 38. 8 /&., i. 62. 

* Dispacci Veneziani, 213, 514, MSS. Bib. Nat. The list of 
places occupies fourteen pages of the ambassador's correspond- 


making three reverences as she went, after the last of 
which she paid her compliment to the queen. "In 
England," says our informant, " the queen salutes the 
wives of the ambassadors, but it is well known that 
this is not the usage here." In the mean time, the 
king having entered, every one arose. He kissed the 
princess on the cheek, and then she began her retreat, 
constantly bowing as she went, the lady of honor 
always at her right hand, and her face turned towards 
the queen, until at last the door was once more 
reached. Each detail was carefully watched, as its 
importance demanded. When the Turkish ambas- 
sador was presented, says the duke, our chronicler, 
and made his various reverences, " the king took off 
his hat either two or three times, but I could not see 
well enough to say which with certainty." ^ 

There were members of the court who were not 
satisfied even with this exact and rigorous etiquette ; 
then, as now, there were those who regTetted the better 
manners of the past. " There is a usage which seems 
to be forgotten," says the Duke of Luynes ; " formerly 
the servant of the king or queen, when entering or 
leaving the room, made a profound inclination, car- 
rying the hand almost to the ground ; but now I see 
reverences made to the queen which are no more re- 
spectful than one would make to a prime minister." ^ 

The ceremonial by which the king of France was 
surrounded would not perhaps have smothered a 
powerful intellect, but it had a benumbing influence 
on a man of ordinary parts. So much time was re- 
quired for entrees and levees, for presentations and 
salutations, that little remained for the work of gov- 

1 Mem. de Luynes, i. 376, iv. 75. 

2 76., ii. 290. 


erning a great state. It is certain that Napoleon 
could not have displayed his unwearied activity if he 
had been tied down by such an unceasing routine of 
ceremony. In the middle of the eighteenth century, 
at the beginning of an intellectual revolution, on the 
verge of a social revolution, this life of solemn empti- 
ness still continued, and benumbed the intelligence of 
the king and of his courtiers. 

Far different from the Eastern grandeur of the 
court of Louis XV. were the surroundings of his great 
rival, Frederick of Prussia. " If you want to know," 
writes Voltaire of Frederick, " the ceremonies of the 
levee, what are the grandes and the petites entrees,, 
what are the functions of the grand chamberlain, the 
grand almoner, the first gentleman of the chamber, 
I will answer that a lackey comes to light the king's 
fire and shave him, that he dresses himself, and he 
sleeps in a trundle-bed concealed by a screen. Mar- 
cus Aurelius was not more poorly lodged." ^ 

" If I were king of France," said Frederick, " my 
first edict would be to appoint another king, who 
should hold court in my place." 

Louis XV. was not a man who sought relief from 
ceremony and adulation in any useful work; but, on 
the other hand, this dull grandeur was not dear to 
his heart ; he did not derive from it the majestic sat- 
isfaction which it furnished to his predecessor. From 
youth to age the king was bored ; he wearied of his 
throne, his court, and of himself ; he was indifferent to 
all things, and unconcerned as to the weal or the woe of 
his people or of any living person. In his cold 
contempt of all mankind Louis resembled Frederick 
of Prussia, and, excepting the chase, there was nothing 
^ Voltaire, (Euv. Com.t xl. 69. 


in which he took an active interest. His life was 
licentious, he had many mistresses, but for none of 
them did he entertain any strong affection. Mme. 
de Pompadour amused him and he allowed her to 
rule and ruin France as a reward, but he had for her 
only a sensual and sluggish attachment ; her dominion 
over him was based on habit, rather than on passion. 
At Versailles there was an opera on Wednesday, a 
poncert on Saturday, the comedy on Tuesday and Fri- 
jday, and gaming on Sunday, as well as on most other 

idays, but the king had little taste for any of these 
things ; he was indifferent to spectacles ; even gam- 
bling did not excite him.^ He did, however, find a 
lifelong pleasure in killing either bird or beast. The 
history of his private life is largely the record of his 
shooting. On one day we are told he killed 250 head 
of game ; on another he killed 100 in less than two 
(hours, firing 153 times.^ Guns were less accurate 
Tfchen than now, and this was a good record. In thirty 
years he is said to have killed 6,400 stags, and the 
number of pheasants which he bagged is beyond cal- 
culation. The hunting-grounds of the French kings 
were enlarged during his reign ; the regulations for 
the preservation of the royal game were made more 
\ severe and onerous. 

Respect and affection for the sovereign were deep 
seated among the French people ; these feelings had 
lost none of their force at the beginning of Louis 
XV.'s reign, and though they abated somewhat before 
his death, yet the cries of Vive le roi, which always 
greeted the monarch's appearance, and which we are 
told by an inmate of Versailles could be heard about 
the palace almost all the day long, were sincere marks 
^ Mem. de Luynes, i. 168. ^ /j,^ passim. 


of popular attachment.^ The strong affection for the 
sovereign which existed among the people sometimes 
became adulation in those attached to the person of 
the king. Even the priest, whose duty it was to tell 
the monarch of the precepts of religion and of his 
obligations to the King of kings, was expected to in- 
dulge in an outpouring of fulsome praise. This was 
called the compliment and was a recognized part of 
the discourse, the absence of which would have been 
at once noticed. It was a requirement which a loyal 
clergy never neglected. To take a single illustration, 
on Easter Day, 1742, the preacher said in his compli- 
ment to the king, " The Lord has rendered your ma- 
jesty the support of kingdoms and empires, the subject 
of universal admiration, the beloved of his people, the 
delight of the court, the terror of his enemies ; yet 
all this will but raise your great soul above what is 
perishable and lead you to embrace virtue and to 
aspire to eternal beatitude." ^ This compliment of 
Father Tainturin, with much more in the same strain, 
was, we are informed, greatly approved, and to such 
praise from the pulpit did Louis listen all his life. As 
he reflected on his personal immorality and his politi- 
cal insignificance, and he was quite intelligent enough 
to realize both, he may well have pondered upon the 
weight to be attached to the words of the clergy. 

Naturally the splendor of the monarchy had to be 
paid for, and the bill was large. During the eighteenth 
century the condition of the national finances grew 
steadily worse, deficits became more alarming, bank- 
ruptcy was imminent, until the desperate condition of 
the treasury compelled the calling of the States Gen- 

^ Mem. de Mme. de Campan, i. 89. 
2 Mem. de Luynes, iv. 117. 



eral. Had Louis XV. and Louis XVI. been able to 
make the ends meet, the overthrow of the old regime 
would not have been averted, but it would have been 

What may properly be called the expenses of the 
monarch, the cost of the court, of palaces, of royal 
pleasure, royal pomp, and royal lust, were not the 
largest items in the expenditure of the French gov- 
ernment, but they were very great, vand a rigorous 
economy in them would have helped in restoring the 
balance between income and outgo. No reduction 
was attempted under Louis XV., and such an effort 
would have been highly distasteful to him. Of all 
those who had the ear of the king, there was hardly 
one who was not personally interested in leaving 
things as they were, to whom the thought of change 
was not distasteful and the idea of retrenchment ab- 
horrent. The system of court life which had been 
fostered by Louis XIV. furnished pleasure and ad- 
vantage to thousands of people, and the recipients of 
royal bounty wore cheerful faces, which would have 
been saddened by projects of reform. The innumer- 
able offices, the inordinate expenses of the court, pro- 
vided employment and gains, more or less legitimate, 
to almost every one with whom the king associated. 
The resistance of those who profited by a lavish ex- 
penditure proved too strong even for the laudable 
efforts of Louis XVI., stimulated by the sagacity and 
the resolution of Turgot, and Louis XV. was of all 
men the one to whom the role of a reformer would 
have been most distasteful. 

Besides the great sums paid for pensions, the amount 
spent on the court and the royal family was not far 
from twenty million livres at the beginning of this 


reign, and twice as mnch at the close, and this sum 
we must multiply two or three fold to represent equiv- 
alent values at the present.^ The table of Louis XV. 
and of his children cost almost four million livres 
yearly, ten times the amount disbursed by a thrifty 
monarch like Frederick II.''^ In every department 

Llhe expense was swollen by fraud and shiftlessness. 

'"What do you think this carriage cost me?" said 
Louis XV. to the Duke of Choiseul. " I could buy 
one like it for six thousand livres," replied the duke, 
" but to your majesty, paying as a king, it should 
cost eight thousand."^ "You are far from right," 
said the king, " for it cost me thirty thousand." On 
no less a scale peculation flourished in every branch 
of the government ; inefficiency and dishonesty went 
hand in hand ; an attempt to check these evils would 
have been regarded as both chimerical and cruel. 

The perquisites which were enjoyed by those con- 
nected with the court were often curious in their char- 
acter, and were usually satisfactory in their amount. 
Of many offices the duties were nominal and the legal 
compensation was slight, but by recognized usage the 
fortunate holders of those positions appropriated a 
liberal share of the waste of the court. The ladies of 
the queen's chamber were nominally paid one hundred 
and fifty livres a year, but they sold for their own use 
the candles which had once been lighted. This item, 
which would seem insignificant, yielded to them the 
very pretty sum of five thousand francs a year. So 

^ These figures are obtained approximately from the statistics 
given in Forbonnais, Recherches sur les Jinances. Necker's Compte 
rendu, Maison du roi. 

* A Frenchman in Berlin in 1752, Voltaire, Mem. pour servir. 

* Mem. de Bezenval, ii. 20G. 


great were the profits made on wax candles that a 

Earge number of officials participated in them; the 
andles unconsumed when the comedy was ended 
(went to the garde-meuhle.^ while various persons 
Ishared in the sale of those that remained when the 
[king had finished his meals. We may be sure that 
the persons interested in such gains saw that the 
greatest possible number of candles were lighted, and 
that they were not allowed to burn too long. Every 
_three years the linens and the laces of the queen 
iwere renewed in order that the lady of honor and 
the royal nurse might sell the supply on hand. When 
the dauphine died Mme. Brancas at once asserted 
her rights to all that pertained to her toilette, which 
brought no less than fifty thousand crowns ; another 
lady's profits on her wardrobe were eighty-two thou- 
sand livres, and in all the perquisites of various mem- 
bers of the court on the dauphine' s death can safely 
be^eckoned at over a hundred thousand dollars. 
/ The first gentleman of the chamber supplied the 
king with powder and pomade, and reaped great 
gains from his monopoly. The grand equerry had 
the job of furnishing the Swiss guards with their uni- 
forms, and his profits were larger than those of the 
ijiost fashionable tailor. 

In modern days of vulgar democracy such practices 
would be called plain stealing, but they were recog- 
nized by usage, and similar abuses could be found in 
every branch of the French administration. It was 
a gigantic system of wastefulness in which all profited, 
and which no one sought to check. Even the captain 
of the hunt at Fontainebleau made no less than twenty 
thousand francs a year by selling rabbits ; whatever 
amounts were realized by the sale of the king's prop- 


erty, it was rarely that any of the proceeds were allowed 
to find their way into the king's exchequer.^ Indeed, 
these innumerable perquisites were bestowed by a be- 
nevolent monarch on courtiers who looked to him for 
support, in the same way that a gentleman gives his 
valet the old clothes which he would blush to sell. 

The form of administration which had been per- 
fected under Louis XIV. continued with little change 
until the Revolution. The chief authority was in the 
hands of secretaries^ oJ__state, to each of whom was 
assigned an amount of work which required for its 
performance the greatest industry and the highest 
ability. The choice of the ministers was determined 
by the intrigues of the court and the caprice of the 
monarch, and, as a result, few men of capacity filled 
these positions during the eighteenth century. While 
Fleury was prime minister he exercised a certain 
supervision over his associates, but after his death 
unity of purpose was rarely found among the advisers 
of the king. As a rule, each secretary was jealous of 
his companions ; his chief anxiety was lest any of them 
should obtain in large degree the confidence and favor 
of the sovereign. The man fortunate enough to be 
chosen as secretary was admitted to the intimacy of 
the king, he could enrich himself and his friends, he 
was the object of envy to his fellows ; dismissal from 
office was the manifest mark of royal disapproval, a 
disgrace which few had sufficient philosophy to bear 
with equanimity. Theuaimsto wa^^n^littleja^^^ 
of overthrow from any public disfavor ^ whether he 
was Joved or hated by _Jiis fellow citizens was not 
likely in any way to affect his .tenure of office. But 

i Mem. de Luynes, ii. 369 ; iii. 300 ; vii. 383 et pas. j Taine, 
L'Anden Regime, 87. 





he was exposed to dangers of a different nature : the 
complaints of those who had the opportunity of whis- 
pering their discontent to the monarch when he was 
putting on his shirt or taking off his boots ; the insinu- 
ations of his companions at the supper-table; most 
dangerous of all the ill will of her who, for the time 
being, possessed the royal affections, might any day 
bring the dreaded order to turn over the seals of office 
and retire to his chateau in the provinces. Naturally, 
therefore, the secretary sought to make friends of 
members of the court, to advise no measure which 
would interfere with their privileges, to oppose no 
act of benevolence which they might request from the 
king. Still more was it for his interest to enjoy the 
favor of the mistress, to assist her in every demand 
for money or rank, to consult her in the distribution 
of patronage, to ask her advice as to the policy of the 
state. The shameful influence exerted by the mis- 
tresses of Louis XV. in the government of France is 
the chief scandal of his reign, and had much to do with 
undermining the monarchical traditions of the French 
people. Men were made ministers of state because 
they could turn off a neat rhyme on the favorite's 
charms, and men were dismissed from office because 
they dared to oppose her wishes. 

So firmly was the power of such women established 
under Louis XV. that it seemed an integral part of 
the system of government ; in nations where this was 
not found, courtiers recognized a defect in the consti- 
tution. The young Count of Gisors, son of Mar- 
shal Belle Isle, visited England in 1754. It was 
not strange that he should have thought St. James 
hideous and the English court small and sombre when 
compared with that of Versailles, but another differ- 


, ence attracted his attention as he considered the rela- 
' tive positions of Mme. de Pompadour and the Countess 
of Yarmouth. " In every other monarchy," he writes, 
" the mistress of the king shares his power ; here she 
only shares his impotence." ^ 

Even though no woman's whim interfered, Louis 
was prone to make a capricious choice of his servants. 
His indolent and selfish nature was affected by trifles ; 
thoujjh he was indifferent to the abilities of his minis- 
ters, he was critical as to their manners : he never re- 
called Chauvelin to his councils because his jokes, 
his familiarity, and his loud laughter were distasteful ; 
he dismissed Amelot, the secretary for foreign affairs, 
because he could not endure his perpetual stuttering.^ 

The administration in France was highly central- 
ized, and to superintendents was assigned the duty of 
regulating the affairs of the provinces in accordance 
with the principles adopted at Versailles. The exten- 
sive power vested in these officers has been an object 
of denunciation from Richelieu's day to ours, but as a 
whole it was probably in furtherance of good govern- 
ment. Certainly the power exercised by them was 
very large. "The kingdom of France," said Law, " is 
governed by thirty(supe^ntendSnts, and on them de- 
pends the misery or happiness of the provinces, their 
j,bundance or their sterility." Hardly an object of 
human interest was without their jurisdiction ; the 
administration of justice, the finances of the city, the 
/ highways of the town, the apportionment of taxation, 
the dispersion of Huguenot assemblies, alike required 
(jthe attention of the all-pervading superintendent. His 

1 Journal of Count of Gisors, February- April, 1754 ; cited by 
Rousset, Vie du Comte de Gisors. 

2 Me'm. d^Argenson, ix. 58, 64. 


action could be overruled by the authorities at Ver- 
sailles, but little of this mass of detail found its way 
to the notice of a secretary whose mind was too closely 
fixed on the court to give much thought to the condi- 
tion of the provinces. 

Power as extensive as this was often abused ; there 
were superintendents who were bigoted and inefficient 
and corrupt ; but, on the whole, their work seems to 
have been as well done as was possible with any sys- 
tem that was then practicable. Many of the duties 
imposed upon them might wisely have been intrusted 
to local bodies, but in the political condition of France 
at that period an intelligent and effective system of 
local government was impossible, unless accompanied 
by a degree of political freedom which would at once 
have put an end to the old regime. The superintend- 
ents were always active and usually intelligent, and 
the extensive power vested in officials who were them- 
selves dependent on the central government helped to 
unify the French people. 

The administrations of such men as Aguesseau in 
Languedoc and Turgot at Limoges were long remem- 
bered for the benefits they wrought in the districts 
under their charge. 

The influence of the city governments and of other 
local bodies was not sufficiently important to require 
any detailed notice. By various means they had been 
deprived of any independent power : the appointment 
of officials was largely in the hands of the king ; their 
duties were nominal; the people had little voice in 
their selection, and little concern as to their conduct. 
In the early part of the eighteenth century there was 
no other section of the world where the theory of local 
government was so admirably developed as in New 


England ; there was no civilized country in which it 
was more torpid and unimportant than in the greater 
portion of France, and this fact alone will go far to 
account for the differences between the revolutions 
of 1776 and 1789.^ In Languedoc, Brittany, and a 
few other districts, the ancient provincial states had 
escaped annihilation, but their power to regulate the 
amount contributed to the general government by 
those they represented, which had once been impor- 
tant, was now hardly more than a registration of the 
royal will. The provincial states, like the governors 
of the provinces, had the form of power, but not the 
reality. They might have furnished a nucleus for the 
development of legislative bodies, somewhat akin to 
the legislatures of the American States, but the tend- 
ency of political change in France was not in that 
direction ; in the discussions of the eighteenth century 
there was little demand for any local subdivision of 
political action; the most ardent republican of the 
Convention was as eager an advocate of centralization 
as Richelieu or Louis XIV. ; the provincial states, 
which were feeble at the beginning of the eighteenth 
century, passed out of existence at the close of it. 
/ During the reign of Louis XV. the only check upon 
/the authority of the king was found, not in any repre- 
sentative assemblage which could assert a right based 
on past tradition or on present expediency, but in the 
nudicial bodies whose claim to exercise legislative 
Action had little foundation in the past and was of 
little value in the present. The nobility of the robe 

1 For a somewhat fuller statement of the condition of the 
local bodies in France under Louis XIV., which was little 
changed under Louis XV., I would refer to France under the 
Regency, p. 304 et seq. 


enjoyed privileges hardly inferior to those of the no- 
bility of the sword ; it was no better fitted to render 
important political service to the state. It is not 
strange, therefore, that the constant quarrels between 
the Parliament of Paris and Louis XV. served no 
useful purpose. A royal edict, in order to be enforced, 
had to be registe^redTwitF^lie court's, but if this regis- 
tration was refused, the king in his own person could 
hold a bed of justice and compel it. It is manifest, 
therefore, that though the parliament might remon- 
strate with the sovereign, it could not control his 
action ; it could delay the registration of an edict, but 
it could not prevent it. Nor from the constitution of 
the body was it possible that it should ever become a 
fit organ for the expression of the popular will. We 
shall have occasion to relate frequent contests between 
the king and the courts during the reign of Louis 
XV. The cause espoused by the judges was usually 
popular with the people. But when later in the cen- 
tury there came a demand for popular institutions, 
and the overthrow of the privileges which formed so 
large a part of the old regime, it is not strange that 
the judges were soon arrayed in opposition to changes 
which would be fatal to their own position in the com- 
munity. The growth of the French parliaments is 
interesting as a chapter in legal history, but it is not 
important as a part of the constitutional history of the 
French kingdom. 

In considering the condition of France at the be- 
ginning of Louis XV. 's reign it is proper to give spe- 
cial attention to the position of the nobility, for politi- 
cally as well as socially its influence was far greater 
than that of either the church or the third estate. 

The French nobility was a large body ; new mem- 



bers were constantly added, and its limits were vaguely 
defined ; it is difficult, therefore, to say with accuracy 
in what measure the administration of the country 
remained in its hands. It was the policy of Louis 
XIV. to restrict the influence of the great nobles, 
whose families traced their origin far back in French 
history, and whose ancestors had once ruled prov- 
inces almost as independent sovereigns. Secretaries 
of state were more often chosen from officials con; 
nected with the parliament, or from superintendents 
who had shown ability, than from nobles who bore 
names like those of Conde, or Rohan, or Bouillon. In 
this, as in every tradition of government, Louis XV. 
sought to follow in the footsteps of his ancestor. 
There were no families in France during the eighteenth 
century exercising a political influence to be com- 
pared with that of the Bedfords, or the Pelhams, or 
the Newcastles in England. But _ illustrious^-hQUges 
like the Condes or the Bouillons formed a small part 
of the French aristocracy. The parliamentary fam^ 
ilies should not be regarded as part of the thirdl 
estate ; they were not improperly called the nobility of/ 
the robe, inferior indeed to that of the sword, but 
still identified in interest with the aristocracy, rather 
than with the commonalty of France. Men who had 
sprung from modest origins, but had obtained the 
prizes of the state, became founders of new families, 
equal in wealth and in rank to thp^e of more ancienti 
lineage; the descendants of Colbert and Fouquet and 
Louvois mingled on no very unequal terms with the 
descendants of nobles who had conquered at Bouvines, 
or been defeated at Agincourt. Admitted into a priv- 
ileged body, enjoying the rank, the titles, the immu- 
nities of an aristocracy, naturally they espoused its 


interests and shared its prejudices. Centuries are not 
required to instill into the blood a lively conception of 
the difference between nobleman and commoner. The 
father of the famous Duke of St. Simon was a poor 
country gentleman elevated to the peerage by the 
caprice of his master, but his son could have been no 
more deeply imbued with aristocratic prejudices if he 
had traced his rank to Hugh Capet instead of to Louis 

We can justly say that the administration of France 
under Louis XV. was largely in the hands of the aris- 
tocracy, and certainly the traditions of that body had 
a controlling influence on the policy of the country. 
Even though a secretary of state might belong to a 
)arliamentary family, or came from still humbler stock, 
the courtiers, the officers of the army, those attached 
/ to the person of the king, belonged with few excep- 
V. tipns to the order of the nobility. 

At this period nearly two hundred thousand persons 

L'med the second estate, as the nobility was officially 
called ; they were but one per cent, of the population 
of France, but they received a larger amount of con- 
sideration from the government and from the worl(l 
than the other ninety-nine parts. To most readers of 
French history its interest still centres in the vision of 
a magnificent monarch, attended by dukes and mar- 
quises, resplendent in powdered hair, embroidered 
coats, and jeweled swords, and by ladies who were 
always charming, often beautiful, and sometimes vir- 
tuous. It is not a complete and a philosophical con- 
ception of the history of a great people, but it would 
be idle to disregard the importance of the court life 
under the old regime. 

There was, however, a large class of the nobility 





who were not found among the gorgeous butterflies 
that adorned Versailles ; gentlemen who could show 
the quarterings necessary for entrance to any noble 
order, but who knew as little of Paris as^ many an 
English squire knew of London. These country 
gentry for the most part were reduced in fortune, and 
exercised a small influence in their districts./ The 
want of money, the lack of some powerful friend who 
could procure for them a position at court, were gen- 
erally the causes which kept them at home. Trade 
was forbidden, the practical qualities by which estates 
are made more valuable were not common among 
them, and the fortunes of many gentle families stead- 
ily! decreased. / Each son inherited the privileges and. 
the traditions oFTiis order, T>ut his material inherit- 
ance was often sadly inadequate for the support of a 
gentleman, who could find no way of bettering his 
fortunes without derogating from his rank. He be- 
came " the high and mighty seigneur of a dovecot, a 
frog-pond, and a warren." A superintendent tells us 
that in his district, out of thousands of gentle birth, 
there were not thirteen who had incomes of twenty 
thousand francs. Scorning any occupation but the 
chase, they blushed to work and died of hunger.^ 

Thus reduced in fortune, they led a cramped and 
useless existence. The French gentlemen as a class 
took little part in the affairs of the community ; few 
of them bore any resemblance to the country gentry 
who exerted so great and so beneficial an influence in 
England. They were indeed less apt to get fuddled 
drinking with the farmers at the tavern, but neither 
had they any taste for the usefid work of the Quarter 
Sessions, nor that active and hearty cooperation in 
^ R^tif de la Bretonue, La vie de mon pere, i. 146. 


matters of local interest which make the squire the 
chief figure, and usually a popular figure, in every 
English hamlet. 

■^ Ite gentlemen who were debarred from the bril- 
liant existence of the court cherished in no less degree 
the pride of their order. The duke who stood by the 
king at his dinner and was admitted into his bed- 
chamber was no more tenacious of the deference due 
his rank than the country gentleman who lived in a 
dilapidated chateau on poorer fare than many a skilled 
mechanic, and who wandered over his scanty acres 

\with a hungry dog at his heels and a rusty sword at 
^s side. Voltaire was made a gentleman of the^ 
king's chamber, and the Chevalier de I'Huilliere ex- 
pressed the sentiments of his class when he wrote, " I 
am informed that the king has bestowed the office of 
gentleman of his chamber upon one Arouet, known as 
Voltaire. The king will not affront the nobility by 
releasing this fellow from furnishing proofs of his 
gentle birth, which he could only find on his mother's 
side, for on his father's he is a roturier. To do 
this would dishonor gentlemen of name, who have 
been noble from father to son from time immemo- 
rial." ^ The orthography and the grammar of this 
letter are lamentable, and those who were outraged 
that an office should be bestowed on one who could 
not show his sixteen quarterings were often as igno- 
rant as they were proud. Even in 1789, in the 
cahiers prepared for the States General, we find nu- 
merous requests from country gentlemen for some 
mark — a cross or a ribbon — which should proclaim 
to the world that its wearers were of noble birth.^ 

^ Fillon, Leitres inedites de la Vendee^ 116, 7. 
2 Taine, L'Ancien Regime, 48. 


Undoubtedly there were exceptions i there were nobles^ 
like the father of the great Mirabeau>_Tyho were in no 
way connected with the court, and whose careers wer^ 
active and.usfiful. At the beginning of the Revolu- 
tion the peasants of the Vendee remained constant to 
the principles espoused by the upper classes, and their 
devotion proves that in this district the gentlemen 
still retained their position as leaders of the commu- 
nity. Such cases were exceptional ; as a rule, the pro- 
vincial nobility were encased in a stupid pride, which 
kept them aloof from their neighbors of less degree ; 
they showed no capacity for useful work or for any 
work ; they possessed no hold over a community which 
they neither guided nor aided.^ 

If the life of some gentleman whom scanty fortune 
condemned to vegetate in the provinces was barren and 
dull, it was far otherwise with the great nobles. JXq 
an uncommon degree they had within their reach the 
objects of human desire ; they possessed rank and 
wealth ; they were free from the cares and necessities 
which cramp the existence of most ; they received 
great benefits from the state, and were exempt from 
most of its burdens. Few lots would seem more envi- 
able than that of the head of a great French family 
during the eighteenth century, living in a country 
which attracted the attention and excited the admira- 
tion of all Europe, forming part of a magnificent 
court, where the splendor of the king and the great- 
ness of the country furnished innumerable opportu- 
nities for the acquisition of dignity and power and 

^ " Les seigneurs," said the Marquis of Mirabeau, speaking of 
the rest of the population, " ne leur sont plus bons k rien ; il est 
tout simple qu'ils en soient oublids comme ils les oublient." 


Such an aristocracy naturally dazzled and delighted 

beholders. The training of its members from child- 
'hood fitted them for intercourse with their fellows: 
they had tact and polish and good breeding. A lad 
of twelve could turn a neat compliment to a guest ; a 
girl was drilled each hour of the day in the minutiae 
of etiquette. " Be careful not to disturb your rouge, 
and not to tear your robe, and not to disarrange your 
headdress, and then amuse yourself," said a mother 
'to a young girl going to a children's party .^ The^ 
rere drilled for a life of social display; the marquis 
of ten, in powdered hair and with a sword at his side, 
walked with as much dignity as the duke his father ; 
his sister of twelve was versed in the use of the rouge- 
pot, and submitted herself to the arts of the hair- 
dresser with as resigned a grace as the duchess her 
mother. If a nobleman often grew up knowing very | 
little else, at least he was taught good manners, and j 
for the career before him this was by far the most 
useful accomplishment which he could acquire. 

The social life of the nobility and the changes 
which the century produced will be discussed later. It 
is rather as a political element in the body politic that 
they will here be considered, and we are first impressed 
by the amount which they cost the state. Alike the 
feudal dues which remained as a relic of the feudal 
power vested in the nobility of a former age, and the 
heavy burden which their successors imposed upon 
the national treasury, increased the weight of taxa- 
tion, and were a serious check upon the prosperity of 
the larger portion of the community. 

Life at Versailles was costly, even though the king 
defrayed many of the expenses of those whom he 
1 Cited by Goncourt, La/emme au 18* siecle. 


regarded as his guests. The establishments of the 
great nobles were on a colossal scale, the servants were 
numerous, the cost of entertainment was large, and 
necessary expenses were swollen by shiftlessness. As 
a result, the nobility as a body were involved in debt ; 
even though the revenues from their estates were 
swollen by pensions and emoluments received from 
the king, a large proportion were in a chronic state 
of insolvency. The Duke of St. S imon had an in - 
co me of almost eighteen hundred thou sand livre^^gjt 
his creditors had to be content with fifty cents on a 
doUatJof -their claims i Marshal Estrees left twojgil- 
lion livres of debts ; at twenty-six the Dnkft of T^an^nn 
was already two millions in debt ; M . de C henonceau x 
lost seven, hundred^thou^ard francs at playjn_a single^ 
ni^ht. .The Duke of Bourbon had_ an inco^^^^ 
million^ livres, and owed six millions when he died. ^ 
The country gentlemen were embarrassed because 
their receipts were so small, and the great nobles were 
bankrupt because their expenditures were so large. 

Rarely did a nobleman give any attention to im- 
proving the value of his property, and to engage in 
business enterprises was unknown. Arthur Young 
said he could generally distinguish the estates of 
great nobles by their bad condition. " Whenever you 
stumble on a grand seigneur you are sure to find his 
property a desert." " I will wager," said a stranger, 
"that this inclosure belongs to the seigneur." "It 
does," replied the peasant. " I thought so," continued 
the traveler, " when I saw it was covered with briers 
and thorns." ^ The dilapidation of fortunes was some- 
times repaired by marriages with" the iJauglltejCS-Qf 

^ Mem. de Luynes, iii. 123 ; iv. 445 et pas. 
2 Mirabeau, Traite de la population^ i. 42. 


"bankers or government contractors, but such alliances 
were not as common as they are now, and the tend- 
ency of an extravagant class was to become an em- 
barrassed class. Yet whatever was the condition of 
the hereditary estates, though rents were falling and 
mortgages were growing, a man of the world, as has 
been truly said, expected that there should be money 
in his pocket, a fine coat in his dressing-room, pow- 
dered valets in his antechamber, a gilded carriage 
standing at his door, and a choice dinner served upon 
his table.^ In certain directions he was willing to 
disquiet himself in order to obtain the means for such 
an outlay, but the only source of supply to which he 
could resort was the liberality of the king and the 
treasury of the nation. 

If a nobleman was in favor at court and was in 
financial distress, — and the two things frequently went 
together, — it was to the king that he turned for relief, 
nor was the prayer for aid often refused. The Prince 
of Conti was given a million and a half livres to pay 
his debts ; the Countess of Polignac had four hundred 
thousand for the same purpose, and the list of similar 
benefactions would be endless. 

If assistance was not granted directly from the 
treasury, it was often furnished by expedients for 
which the public at last had to pay. As the Prince 
of Carignan was in straits, he was allowed to keep a 
gambling-house in Paris, with the profits of which he 
might repair the waste of his fortune. 

The Duke of Luynes tells us of the efforts of a 

person who wished to share in the profits made from 

the farm of taxes. At first he promised M. de la 

Tremoille fifty thousand crowns to secure him the 

1 Taine, UAncien Regime, 165. 


position, but for some reason this negotiation fell 
through. At last he was promised the place upon con- 
dition of paying forty thousand crowns, with which 
to discharge a gambling-debt of the Duke of Riche- 
lieu.i It was necessary that the profits to be derived 
from the position should be sufficient to defray the 
bribes required to obtain it, and so they were. Each 
one of the associates connected with the farms received 
annually the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand 
livres, and in addition the gains of the association 
during one term of nine years were figured at fifty-four 

The demands of the nobility for pecuniary aid were 
regarded as well founded ; alike privileges and pen- 
sions arid exemptions from taxation were based upon 
a claim of right, upon services rendered in the past 
for the support and defense of the monarchy, and 
which were supposed still to be rendered in the pres- 
ent. In the service of the king the members of the 
second estate, it was said, were ready to shed their 
blood ; in times of peace they were his counselors, 
and in the advice of noblemen possessing the advan- 
tage of leisure, and raised above need, a wisdom and 
disinterestedness could be found not to be expected 
from those bom to a humbler lot. It was just, there- 
fore, that offices of profit and responsibility should be 
intrusted to those who were entitled to their gains and 
fitted for their duties. Such was the theory of the 
advantages of an aristocracy as a governing class, and 
it is necessary to study the history of France in the 
eighteenth century to see how far this conception was 

The embarrassed condition of the national finances 
1 Mem. de LuyneSj ii. 61. « /j,^ j. 166. 


which was chronic under Louis XV. was not alto- 
gether due to excessive expenditure. Certainly there 
was great opportunity for retrenchment, yet the ex- 
penses of the government under the old regime were 
not greater than the country was able to bear ; it is 
doubtful whether the monarchical establishment was 
any more costly than the democratic institutions by 
which it has been succeeded. Wars were more fre- 
quent in the last century than in this, but while they 
lasted longer they cost less, and the expense of the 
army in times of peace was small in comparison with 
the sums now expended by most European nations. 
Twenty million livr^s a year would perhaps represent 
the sums annually paid in pensions to the aristocracy. 
In addition to this there were the excessive amounts 
allowed to the holders of many offices ; the Governor 
of Languedoc had a salary of one hundred and sixty 
thousand livres, the Governor of Burgundy received 
one hundred thousand, the position of grand master 
was worth as much ; the list of lucrative offices was 
a long one. The amount spent upon the royal family 
was a yet more serious item. Aside from the civil list 
proper, the expenses of the monarch himself, were the 
increasing sums expended upon members of his family. 
While Louis XV.'s daughters were still little more 
than children, it was said that each of them cost the 
state a million annually, and a few years later the 
two brothers of Louis XVI. succeeded in squandering 
every year eight millions of the public moneys. 

Such extravagance can jiistly be condemned, yet it 
is equaled by the salaries of an excessive number of 
minor officials in the present French government, and 
it is far exceeded by the pension list of the United 
States. It may, indeed, be said that the sums thus 




expended in our own day benefit large numbers, 
while those paid out under the old regime profited 
only a small class ; yet considered as a burden upon 
the national wealth, it is questionable if the cost of 
government absorbed any larger proportion of the 
resources of the governed. 

It was not the amount taken by taxation so much 
as the apportionment of taxation which rendered its 
burden almost unbearable. If the condition of the 
lower classes was bad, and the finances of the govern- 
ment were involved, the explanation is to be found 
chiefly in the exemptions granted the privileged 
classes. The number of those who profited by such 
abuses was constantly increasing, and thus a larger 
proportion of the national wealth was withdrawn from 
its just burden of taxation. A courtier of Louis XIV. 
said that whenever his majesty created an office, the 
Lord created a fool who would purchase it. The 
purchaser was by no means a fool; the salaries al- 
lowed the holders of the countless useless offices cre- 
ated at this period usually amounted to at least a 
reasonable interest on the sum paid for the place, 
and the other advantages which resulted were often 
far more valuable than the yearly stipend received 
from the treasury. There were thousands of posi- 
tions which secured to their holders a large degree of 
exemption from the burdens of taxation. The posi- 
tion of some petty civic official or of some useless 
court functionary might not seem specially enviable, 
but if it conferred upon him the rank of nobility, and 
thereby secured relief from the ordinary burdens of 
the' state, the advantage to the incumbent was large, 
and in every case it was purchased at the expense of 
other taxpayers. 


The nobility were by no means exempt from all 
forms of taxation, but where the law did not spare 
them sd^ogether their social position secured a large 
degree of immunity. The Duke of Orleans said he 
saved three hundred thousand livres every year be- 
cause the taxing officers grossly underestimated his 
property; the princes of the blood did not pay one 
twelfth of the amount for which they were justly 
liable ; on an average, the assessment on the estates 
of gentlemen was probably not over one sixth of the 
sum which would have been levied on property of the 
same value in the hands of roturiers.^ 

At the beginning of Louis XV.'s reign the bour- 
geoisie filled a less important place than at its close. 
With the development of commerce resulted a growth 
of wealth which secured for its possessors an increas- 
ing influence in society and the state. Many of the 
fortunes accumulated would be regarded as consider- 
able even in our days. SaimiglJBernard, the great 
banker, was said to have left thirty millions ; M. de 
Bellegarde, a farmer of taxes, had a fortune of eight 
millions, and the list of those whose wealth was reck- 
oned by millions was not a small one. By the very 
fact of their riches such men were brought into inti- 
mate relations with the aristocracy, whose society they 
sought, and whose vices they imitated more easily than 
their virtues. 

Bernard led a life of magnificent display ; his table 
alone cost him one hundred and fifty thousand livres a 
year ; his mistress was given a great estate ; his sons 
squandered fortunes ; his daughter married the Mar- 
g^uis of Mirepoix. Some blamed the marquis, writes a 

^ The evils resulting from an under-assessraent of the property 
of nobles are often referred to by Turgot. 


contemporary, for allying himself with a family so lack- 
ing in lustre, but he adds, " in these days nothing but 
money is considered." ^ Even in the coui-tly era of 
Louis XIV., Madame de Sevigne had written that 
the millions were always of good family. The lives 
of many of these parvenus, the most of whom gained 
their wealth in transactions with the state, were too 
often a poor reproduction of the reckless career of 
spendthrift nobles. Madame d'Epinay has described 
the routine of existence at her husband's, a man who, 
like many of his fellows, combined educated and artis- 
tic tastes with every folly of conduct. When he arose 
his valet hastened to assist in the toilette, two lackeys 
were on hand to receive his orders, and a secretary 
to attend to his correspondence. Then followed what 
seems a burlesque on the scenes which attended the 
king's rising : M. d'Epinay walked into his antecham- 
ber amid two rows of parasites and proteges, dealers 
and merchants, lackeys and beggars, and, alas ! always 
a goodly assemblage of creditors, who danced attend- 
ance long before they were able to obtain their pay.^ 
His father acquired wealth as a farmer of taxes, and 
the son inherited a fortune, and an office of which 
the gains were as large as they were unconsciona- 
ble. No riches could keep pace with his prodigality, 
and he squandered his money on every device that 
could be suggested by dissipation and improvidence. 
With all this he was a polished and an agreeable 
man. He had a smattering of every useless accom- 
plishment ; he was a fair musician, and a bit of a '^ 
poet; he had a taste for architecture and painting 
and cooking, and was a reasonably good carpenter ; he 

^ Journal de Barbier, Au^st, 1733. 
2 Mem. Mme. d'Epinay, 307. 


ruined himself and his family with the utmost amia- 
bility. His relations with his wife are a curious and 
a nielancholy picture of the social condition of the 
time, for he consulted her with frankness as to appro- 
priate gifts for the actresses on whom he squandered 
countless thousands. At last his dissipation cost him 
his office, as it had exhausted his fortune ; separated 
from his family, ruined in position, hopelessly bank- 
rupt, he hummed and thrummed through life to the 
end, giving dainty little suppers, patronizing the stage, 
adoring actresses, with perfect affability, courtesy, and 

It was not by such men that society could be changed 
for the better, yet as years went on the upper middle 
class assumed greater importance ; the influence of 
commerce and literature became larger, while that of 
Versailles grew less. Before Louis's reign was ended, 
the public sought inspiration from houses at Paris 
where gathered philosophers and economists, rather 
than from the salons of an ancient aristocracy. But 
in the early part of the century the middle classes 
exerted little influence in the administration of the 

To the most important class in the population the 
government gave least attention ; upon the tillers of 
the soil the burden of taxation fell most heavily, and 
little heed was given to the amelioration of their lot. 
Yet no one can understand the course of French his- 
tory without giving to the character of the French 
peasantry more study than it has often received. 
Among the national characteristics of the French, as 
they are generally conceived, are wit, frivolity, fickle- 
ness, a readiness for political change. The French 
peasants have few of the qualities which are assumed 


to be those of the whole nation ; they have been con- 
servative, unwilling to deviate from the usages of the 
past, slow to adapt themselves to the needs of the 
future, untiring in their industry, often narrow in 
their intelligence, yet fond of gain, and eager to add 
sou by sou to their savings, and acre by acre to their 
little parcels of land. Among them neither wit nor 
intellectual brightness has found a fertile soil, but 
they have contributed to the nation's character a cer- 
tain stubborn tenacity, for which it has not always 
received credit. It is from the innumerable petty 
hoards of a thrifty and often an avaricious peasantry 
that the money has been forthcoming which has saved 
France from financial ruin in the worst crises of her 
history. The country depends on a class whose strong- 
est quality is an indomitable persistence, and this has 
enabled the French people to escape the overthrow 
with which they have so often been threatened. 

The contrast between the upper classes and the 
peasantry in France has always been far more marked 
than between the corresponding orders in England. 
Broad as are the distinctions that result from differ- 
ences in birth and education and wealth, yet there has 
always been much in common between an English 
nobleman and an English yeoman ; through all the 
centuries of English history it is easy to see the char- 
acteristics which have bound together the estates of 
the realm. It has not been so in France ; either in 
the eighteenth century or the centuries prior it is hard 
to find any point of resemblance between the peasant 
who labored in the fields and the gentleman who lived 
in the chateaux. There was no such difference in 
character and tendencies and tastes between the peer 
and the plowman in. England as that which in France 


seemed to draw an impassable line between Monsieur 
le Marquis and Jacques Bonhomme. 

At the present time, one half of the population of 
France is occupied with the culture of the soil ; the 
proportion was somewhat larger in the last century, 
/ilnd under Louis XV., of twenty million people, nearly 
I fifteen millions belonged to the peasantry.^ Not only 
were they the largest class, but they were by far the 
largest contributors to the national wealth. Even 
now the wealth of France is chiefly agricultural, and 
a century and a half ago French manufactories were 
comparatively small and the era of great industrial 
development had not begun. The French as a people 
have not been preeminent in commercial intelligence ; 
they do not equal the English in business enterprise ; 
they have had poor success in colonial develojDment ; 
the nation owes its prosperity chiefly to the unremit- 
ting toil given to a fertile soil, and to the unwearying 
thrift by which the small but steady gains of agricul- 
ture have been accumulated until they reached enor- 
mous proportions. The soil of France is rich, but in 
the culture of it more has been due to the indefatiga- 
ble industry of the peasants than to the intelligence 
they displayed in their methods. More than a cen- 
tury before, Olivier de Serres, the most famous of 
French agricultural writers, had bidden his country- 
men to cling to the plow of their ancestors, and to 
beware of innovations. ^ 

1 In 1792, Arthur Young estimated the urban population at 
six millions and the country population at twenty millions. 
Travels in France, 353. The latter has changed little in a cen- 
tury, being still about nineteen millions ; the increase has been 
entirely in the cities. 

2 Theatre d' Agriculture. 


No advice was less needed. The French people 
do not take readily to economical novelties, nor have 
farmers in any nation been prompt to change the 
modes of culture which they learned from their sires, 
and the peasants have been the most conservative 
among Frenchmen, and the most averse to change 
among farmers. Arthur Young commented repeat- 
edly on the backward condition of French agriculture. 
In Brittany, he said, husbandry had not further ad- 
vanced than among the Hurons.^ 

In some districts the conditions were better, for the 
differences in intelligence and prosperity in different 
parts of the country were far greater than they are 
now. Yet if a peasant who lived in the days of 
Charlemagne could have revisited the scene of his 
labors in the early part of Louis XV.'s reign, he 
would have seen few notable changes in the manner 
in which the soil was cultivated ; the great forests had 
somewhat diminished, the amount of improved land 
had increased with an increasing population, but he 
would have found his descendants plowing and plant- 
ing and reaping in much the same way that he did 

Imperfect as were the means adopted, the results 
were large. Working with the poorest tools and, 
from the conservatism of his nature, slow to apply 
improved methods, even if he had been aware of their 
existence, yet by rising early and laboring late the 
peasant made his little piece of land yield a large 

In great measure this was due to the fact that he 
was working for himself and not for another. Peasant 
proprietorship in France is far from being a new 
^ Travels in FrancCf 123. 


thing, and the extent of it furnishes some criterion of 
the prosperity of different periods. A considerable 
portion of the soil belonged to peasant owners as far 
back as the thirteenth century, and complaints were 
frequent of the extent to which the land was subdi- 
vided. At the time of the Kevolution, Arthur Young 
thought that over one half of the soil was in the pos- 
session of small proprietors. This estimate was too 
^igh. About one third of French soil is now owned 
/by the peasantry, that is, by men whose holdings are 
/ less than twenty acres, and over three million five 
I hundred thousand proprietors cultivate their own 
\land.^ There has been some increase in peasant i^ro- 
prietorship since the downfall of the old regime, 
although this has been less than is supj)Osed ; in the 
early half of the eighteenth century, the peasantry 
undoubtedly owned one fifth of all the soil of France, 
and they owned more than one fifth of that which was 
actually cultivated .^ The great forests, the vast tracts 
of waste land, belonged to the government or to large 
owners, and probably almost one third of the land on 
which crops were raised was property of the men who 
tilled it.^ The wealth drawn from the soil was vastly 
increased by the number of small proprietors. A con- 
temporary, who was himself a nobleman, estimated 
that on an average the land owned by the peasantry 
was four times as productive as that owned by the 
nobility.* "The magic of property turns sand to 

^ Enquete agricole, 1882. 

2 Lavergne, Economie rurale, 49. 

^ The Vicomte d'Avenel, in his Histoire economique, thinks 
that the subdivision of land in 1789 was about the same propor- 
tionally as at present, but the amount under cultivation is now 
much larger. (Page 287.) 

* Argenson, Considerations sur le gouvernement de France. 


gold," Young wrote, as he saw the comfortable little 
houses standing on the sandy soil of French Flanders. 

Yet the result of unremitting toil was generally 
poverty, and sometimes sharp distress, and of this 
the explanation must be found in that fertile source of 
human woe, bad government. 

If the condition of the peasantry was poor, the chief 
cause for this was the undue weight of taxation. The 
total amount raised for the needs of the government 
did not, perhaps, consume a larger proportion of the 
national income under Louis XV. than under the 
present French republic, but, as a result of inequali- 
ties in the imposition, the burden fell more heavily 
upon the lower classes than it now falls upon any 
class. The cost of collecting the national revenue 
does not now exceed five per cent. ; in Louis XV.'s 
reign, between the profits made by the farmers to 
whom taxes were let and the expenses to which tax- 
payers were constantly subjected in the enforcement 
Hof collection, it is not perhaps an overestimate to say 
that the amount taken from the people exceeded by 
fifty per cent, the amount received by the govern- 
ment.i The change that is produced by an efficient 
administration was strikingly illustrated when the 
system of French government was reorganized under 
Napoleon. Six thousand competent officials did well 
the work which had been done ill by two hundred 
thousand collectors ; the receipts of the government 
doubled, and the taxpayers were better off; a few 
years showed the enormous difference to the public 

^ Letrosne, Administration des finances, 1789, estimated that 
the king did not receive over one half of what the nation paid ; 
that the gabelle took one hundred million livres from the peo- 
ple, and yielded only forty-five million to the government, and 
other taxes yielded no more in proportion. 


between a vigorous and intelligent administration and 
the abuses and inefficiency of the old regime.^ 

In the eighteenth century, while a large part of the 
national wealth was exempt in whole or in part from 
public burdens, there was no tax from which the 
peasant was free ; upon him fell the taille, the capi- 
tation, the additional percentages for purposes of war, 
and the varied impositions which together constituted 
the direct taxation. So severe were they that they 
often operated as a check on accumulations. Rous- 
(seau relates an incident that shows how an appearance 
lof squalor and need was preserved, lest the suspicion 
)f prosperity should invite a heavier burden of taxa- 
;ion. He stopped at a peasant's house and asked for 
linner. At first his host put before him only barley 
)read and skimmed milk, and said this was all he had ; 
>ut, convinced at last that his visitor was not a gov- 
( srnment spy, the peasant opened his larder, produced 
jome ham, \Vith good wheat bread, an omelet, and a 
^)ottle of wine, and they dined well. He concealed 
pis abundance, so he told his guest, on account of the 
^ftaille, for he would be ruined by taxation if the offi- 
/ cials did not suppose that he was dying of hunger.^ 
\ His fears were not ill founded, for any appearances of 
■ well-being were sure to result in an increase of the 
i taille. An officer told Argenson that in the district 
where he lived the taxes ought to be increased be- 
cause the peasants were fatter than elsewhere ; he had 
\ seen chickens' feathers scattered about their doors, 
j which showed that they lived well and could pay more 
^ to the state.^ 

^ These changes are well summed up in Taine, Le Regime 

2 (Euvres de Rousseau, xvi. 282. 

3 Journal, September, 1751. 


It is probable that of every hundred francs earned 
by the peasant almost one half was taken for the 
needs of the fisc ; the king's share in the crop, said 
Turgot, was as large as the owner's, and in addition 
to this were the feudal and religious imposts to which 
the land was subject.^ Nominally the church took a 
tenth, but practically the amount collected by it was 
considerably less ; the imposition of tithes was attended 
with some degree of leniency; payments were often 
made in kind, and it may be fairly estimated that the 
tithe on an average did not take more than seven per 
cent, of the produce of the soil.^ It is more difficult 
to ascertain the amount collected by the innumerable 
feudal dues ; while some of these were severe, many 
were exceedingly light, and throughout the century 
the old seigneurial impositions tended to fall into 
desuetude. Yet much more than one half of the 
amount earned by the peasant was used to discharge 
the demands made upon him by the government, the 
church, and the nobleman to whose feudal rights his 
parcel of land was subject.^ The burden of taxation 

^ Turgot said that at Limoges, when he was superintendent, 
the taxes amounted to a little over one half of the product of a 
peasant's piece of land, but in some districts, as for instance at 
Saintonge, he insisted the taxes did not exceed twenty-four per 
cent., and on the whole he estimated the portion taken by the fisc 
at one third. Avis sur Vimposition de la taille. He probably 
underestimated the amount of taxation in other districts in his 
endeavor to obtain some alleviation for his own people. 

2 Lavergne, Economic rurale de la France, estimates that in 
1789 the tithes did not amount to over five per cent, of the net 

^ Taine says over 81 per cent, of the product of a peasant's 
land was absorbed by imports of all kinds, but his estimate is 
too high ; existence could not have been supported from one fifth 
of the crop. 


upon the French peasant under the old regime was 
probably over three times as heavy as it is at present, 
and as a result, even in times of prosperity, his lot 
was hard. 

When the margin for subsistence was so small, it 
is manifest that a failure of the crop was sure to be 
attended by serious results. Such failures were not 
infrequent, and their effects were aggravated by the 
restraints upon the movement of grain which con- 
tinued in force until late in the century. It is in 
these periods that we read accounts of hideous misery 
among large classes of men. In Paris indeed, by the 
constant efforts of the government, the price of bread 
was kept within some bounds ; the capital received the 
same attention that Rome did under the emperors ; 
even at large cost to the state, food was obtained for 
the metropolis at prices which avoided the peril of 
serious discontent among a swarming population. 

The remote provinces received no such fatherl}^ care 
when the crop was insufficient ; not only were there 
no large charities which could relieve distress, but the 
restraints on the shipment of grain from more fortu- 
nate sections increased the danger of actual starva- 
tion. " More Frenchmen have died of want within 
two years," Argenson wrote in 1740, at a season when 
the crops had been deficient, " than were killed in all 
the wars of Louis XIV." ^ Doubtless this was a gross 
exaggeration, but there are many accounts which tell 
of the sufferings of the peasantr}' at such periods. 
Massillon writes from Auvergne, also in 1740j " The 
people of our country live in misery, they have neither 
furniture nor beds ; during part of the year the most 
of them have no nourishment, except bread made of 

^ Mem. d^ Argenson f iii. 92. 


oats and barley, and even this they must snatch from 
their own mouths and those of their chiklren in order 
to pay the taxes. ... I see these unseemly sights every 
vear. . . . The negroes of our islands are happier." 

/ Even when an average crop relieved the danger of 
actual starvation, travelers tell us of the spectacles of 
misery that met them in many parts of the land. The 
houses of the peasantry were little better than huts, 
small, filthy, often without windows ; the inmates were 

, clothed in rags, barefooted, haggard, unwashed, igno- 
rant, and miserable. 

Such was not always their condition. Excessive 
impositions were the chief cause of the peasant's mis- 
ery, and where those were lightened his lot was often 
one of comparative comfort. In the irregularities of 
the French system, while most of the peasantry were 
overtaxed, some escaped any excessive burden. In 
the southern provinces, and especially in Languedoc, 
they enjoyed a considerable measure of prosperity. 
A larger degree of local self-government, a partial 
exemption from the financial and commercial system 
in which the rest of the country was involved, secured 
for them an amount of well-being far exceeding that 
of most of the French people. " In Languedoc, Pro- 
vence, and Dauphiny," writes Argenson during the 
worst of the famine of 1740, " there is an abundance 
of everything. . . . Commerce is free, and wheat is 
never lacking." ^ Later in the century, Arthur Young 
tells us of finding filth, misery, and poverty in one 
district, while in another the houses were neat, the 
peasants were well fed, and the signs of well-being 
were manifest. Unfortunately, in the greater part of 
France the condition of the peasantry was bad, the 
^Argenson, November, 1740. 


instances of prosperity were the exceptions and not the 
rule. In Berri, Young writes that he found the hus- 
bandry poor and the people miserable ; we may be 
sure their condition was no better fifty years earlier ; 
in Orleans, the fields were scenes of pitiable manage- 
ment, as the houses were scenes of extreme misery ; 
Poitou was poor and unimproved ; in Brittany, there 
was hideous wretchedness, he found there only privi- 
/leges and poverty. " One third of what I have seen 
1 of this province," he writes, " seems uncultivated, and 
I nearly all of it is plunged in misery." In Limousin, 
I said Turgot, after the payment of taxes there re- 
1 mained not over thirty livres for each person with 
\ which to provide food and clothing and shelter. 
Even in relative value this sum would be less than 
twenty dollars now, and it seems incredible that on 
so beggarly a pittance life could be sustained. It is 
not strange that he adds, " Agriculture, as it is prac- 
'^ ticed by our peasantry, is like life in the galleys." 
If starvation had been the ordinary lot of the French 
peasants, the race would have become extinct; on 
the contrary, they increased in numbers during the 
eighteenth century, slowly during the first half and 
with somewhat greater rapidity in the forty years 
preceding the Revolution. Notwithstanding unfair 
taxation and imperfect culture of the soil, as a result 
/^ of laborious industry their condition improved. Wal- 
1 pole, traveling through France from Boulogne to Paris 
\ in 1765, writes, " I find this country wonderfully 
/ enriched since I saw it four-and-twenty years ago. 
/ Boulogne is grown quite a snug, plump town, with a 
I number of new houses. The worst villages are tight, 
I and wooden shoes have disappeared." Improvement, 
even in the early part of the century, is indicated by 


another sure criterion, a rise in the price of land. In- 
creased activity in business followed the reforms in 
the currency of 1726, and an enhancement in the 
value of farms seems to have attended it. In 1726, 
Xthe average price of agricultural land was estimated 
I at twenty-five dollars an acre ; by 1750, this had risen 
\^to thirty-five dollars.^ 

Notwithstanding the burden of taxation and the 
pressure of need, the peasantry during aU the century 
continued to increase its holdings of the soil. Small 
as were the earnings of peasant proprietors, if, by 
means of the most rigorous economy, anything re- 
mained at the end of the year, it was put one side, and 
the only thing that would open the box containing 
their hoards was the possibility of acquiring another 
bit of land. A thirst, not for gold, but for land, has 
been characteristic of the French peasant as far back 
as his history can be traced, and opportunities were 
not wanting for new purchases. A large proportion 
of the nobility were non-residents, their land yielded 
them little, and ownership did not of itself bring the 
social influence which had so important an effect on 
the holding of land in England. The French noble- 
man was at court, he was in debt, and he received 
A small returns from his estates in the provinces. It 
/ is evident, therefore, that it was for the interest of 
the gentleman to sell, and the peasant was usually the 
only purchaser. Thus, little by little, an acre here 
and an acre there, the slow process of accumulation 
by the peasantry went on, and it went on with as 

Vmuch rapidity in the eighteenth century as at any era 
of the past. 

1 These figures are derived from the reports of sales given in 
Avenel, Histoire economique, p. 388. 



The death of the Duke of Orleans left vacant the 
position of prime minister. Louis XV. was a boy of 
thirteen ; though legally of age, he was not old enough 
to perform the duties of his office, and the successor of 
Orleans would be the actual ruler of the kingdom. 
Young as Louis was, it was by his choice that the 
minister must be designated, but the desires of the 
sovereign were controlled by a man who had succeeded 
in obtaining, to an unusual degree, his affection and 
his confidence; the royal scholar listened with the 
trustfulness of youth to the counsels of the preceptor, 
who was to be known in history as Cardinal Fleury. 
Like many of the Catholic clergy who attained prom- 
inence and power, Fleury came from humble stock. ^ 
His father was a receiver of taxes, and the son gained 
his education at the cost of the privations which are 
the lot of needy students. ^ He chose the church as 
his profession, and as a priest his conduct was deco- 
rous, moral, and charitable. But he was not a man 
of fervent religious character; always a reputable 
priest, his interests were in the world and not in the 

He possessed many qualities which are of value for 

^ Duclos says that lie belonged to an ancient and noble family, 
but the pedigrees invented for those who achieve greatness are 
subject to suspicion. 

2 St. Simon, ii. 148. 


worldly advancement. His person was handsome, his 
manners combined dignity with unfailing affability, 
he was full of tact and free from greed; he made 
many friends and few enemies. Such a man rarely 
lacks patrons. The favor of Cardinal Bonzi obtained 
for him a position as one of the queen's almoners, 
and after her death he was appointed almoner of 
Louis XIV. ; he became an inmate of the court, and 
was received as a welcome member of society. A 
well-mannered abbe, who was always agreeable and 
never indecorous, could reasonably expect to be made 
a bishop. Louis XIV., it is said, regarded the abbe 
as better fitted for life at court than for the charge 
of souls, but, at the intercession of Cardinal Noailles, 
Fleury was- chosen as bishop of Frejus, a small and 
unimportant diocese in the south of France.^ He did 
not incur the reproach of becoming a non-resident ; for 
sixteen years he dwelt among his flock, performing 
his episcopal duties with great propriety and with 
little zeal. An unimportant see might well have sat- 
isfied the ambition of a man of moderate parts and 
cautious character, but Fleury retained his taste for 
the court and wearied of the life of a country bishop. 
In 1715, when he was past sixty, he resigned his 
post, and soon afterward he was named by Louis 
XIV. 's will as preceptor of Louis XV., who was 
then a child of five. The position was peculiarly 

^ Madame de Maintenon, writing to Noailles in 1699, says : 
" M. I'abbd de Fleury n'etoit pas lui seul un personnage k etre 
sitot dveque." Cor. gen., iv. 297. St. Simon, ii. 143, attributes 
his promotion to the same cause, and he was usually well in- 
formed. He reports that the king said to Noailles, " I do this 
with regret, and you will repent of your choice," which is quite 
probable. The prophecy was verified, for in the conflict over 
the Unigenitus Fleury was always opposed to Noailles. 



adapted to him; he soon gained the confidence of his 
pupil, and in time this made him the chief man in 
France, with an authority as absolute as that of Riche- 
ieu or Mazarin. 

The choice of Fleury as preceptor seems to have 
been judicious, and the influence which he long pos- 
sessed was on the whole wisely exercised. Fleury 
was not a man to instill heroic views into his pupil's 
mind, but Louis was not a man who could have im- 
bibed them. The king was fairly well educated, and 
the defects of his character, which made the later part 
of his reign a blot on French history, could have been 
corrected by no instructor. 

The amiability and mildness of Fleury's character 
soon aroused a warm personal affection in his pupil; 
if Louis lived, it was plain that the affable preceptor 
was not a person to be disregarded. He manifested, 
however, little desire for advancement; he had led a 
tranquil life, and it did not seem probable that when 
approaching seventy he would develop a lust for 
power or place. Although he seemed unambitious, 
yet he realized the advantages of his position, and was 
allured by no dignity which would interfere with his 
personal relations with the king. In 1721, the Duke 
of Orleans offered him the archbishopric of Rheims. 
This was among the great prizes of the French church ; 
the Archbishop of Rheims was one of the ecclesiasti- 
cal peers of the realm; by him the king was conse- 
crated; he enjoyed the income of a farmer general 
and the dignity of a prince. Yet no solicitation could 
induce Fleury to accej)t a position which might loosen 
his hold upon his pupil's affections. His friends sug- 
gested that he should confide the duties of the office 
to a vicar and content himself with receiving its rev- 


enues, but Fleury was not greedy for money, and he 
knew the advantages of a reputation for propriety of 
conduct ; more sincerely than is common he persisted 
in declaring, "Nolo episcopari." ^ When he was 
living in his former diocese, it is said that he once 
signed a letter, "Fleury, by divine wrath, bishop of 
Frejus.""^ It is certain that he had lost his taste for 

The sudden death of the Duke of Orleans left the 
way open for Fleury ; he had but to say the word and 
be declared the prime minister of France. He was 
now a man of seventy, and at that age few are will- 
ing to postpone the gratification of their ambition to 
an indefinite future. Whether from timidity or from 
hesitation, the word was not spoken. 

If Fleury was uncertain, there was an aspirant who 
never hesitated to ask for what he wanted. The 
Duke of Bourbon was the head of the great House of 
Conde, and he inherited qualities which that family 
had often displayed since they deserted the faith and 
the heroic practices of their ancestors a century be- 
fore. The duke combined the greed of his grandfather 
with the violent ambition of his great-grandfather; 
though he was a young man during the regency of 
Orleans, he had been persistent, and successful in 
demanding office and favor. He reaped fabulous 
gains from the operations of Law; he asked enormous 
advantages in return for the protection he extended, 
and the unfortunate adventurer was not in position 
to say no to so powerful a nobleman. It was reported 
that Bourbon had carried off many millions in gold 

1 Mem. de St. Simon, xvii. 274-280. 

2 This is stated by Voltaire, but like most historical anec- 
dotes, it is probably incorrect. 


from the spoils of Law's bank and the Mississippi 
Company; the government com23elled some humbler 
speculators to disgorge their gains, but no one ven- 
tured to disturb the head of the House of Conde. 

It was in the evening of December 2, 1723, that 
Orleans was suddenly stricken with apoplexy. The 
Duke of Bourbon was then at Versailles ; the moment 
he heard the news he waited upon the king, and de- 
manded the position of prime minister. Whether 
Fleury was too modest to ask this great office for 
himself, or whether he feared to offend a man of 
Bourbon's rank and violent character, he at once 
declared that his majesty could do no better than 
charge the duke with the burden of his affairs. The 
young king turned to his preceptor and nodded his 
head, without saying a word, and thus the appoint- 
ment was made.^ 

The Duke of Bourbon was thirty-one years of age 
when he became prime minister. Few men were less 
fitted for the duties of such a place ; he was without 
political capacity or political experience, and his brief 
ministry was characterized by corruption, bad judg- 
ment, and bigotry. The only principles which actu- 
ated him on assuming office were a strong resolve to 
get what he could for himself, and an equally strong 
resolve that the family of Orleans should get nothing. 
The duke had a fanatical hatred for any one who bore 
the name of Orleans ; the regent had tried to satisfy 
in some degree the incessant and insatiable demands 
of his cousin, but the effort was not successful ; much 
as Bourbon had received, he always wanted more. 

1 St. Simon, xix. 201, 202. St. Simon says that Fleury had 
agreed to recommend Bourbon for prime minister if Orleans 


Now that he was himself in power, the fact that any 
measure had obtained the regent's approval made his 
successor desirous for its repeal, and he was haunted 
by a constant fear lest the new Duke of Orleans 
should obtain greater prominence than himself in 
the councils of the king. There was little reason to 
be disquieted on this score. The regent's son pos- 
sessed neither the vices nor the virtues of his father, 
and he had inherited none of his abilities. Beginning 
life amid the dissipation of the Palais Royal, he ended 
his days amid the austerities of the abbey of Sainte 
Genevieve, but he was so unfortunately constituted 
that in him even virtue became grotesque ; the son of 
the regent and the grandfather of Philippe Egalite 
proved the uncertainty of heredity by giving his time 
to writing treatises against the theatre, in the inter- 
vals of studies on the theological works of Theodore 
of Mopsuestia; although his income exceeded three 
million francs, he slept on a straw pallet, fasted with 
severity, went without fires on cold winter days, and 
made his fellow monks miserable by the rigorous dis- 
cipline on which he insisted. Such practices killed 
him at exactly the same age that debauchery closed 
the career of his father.^ Bourbon was not a man of 
ability, but he had little trouble in pushing his pious 
cousin out of his path. 

The duke was controlled by another passion stronger 
even than his jealousy of Orleans, and that was his af- 
fection for Mme. de Prie. She was a woman well fitted 
to please; her conversation was witty and agreeable; 
she had read much ; her memory was tenacious ; her 
beauty was set off by a charming air of modesty and 
reserve. Never were appearances more deceptive : no 
^ Journal de Barbiery v. 156 et pas. ; Mem. d^Argenson, iii. 402. 


woman regarded virtue less; she was violent in her 
hates; she was selfish and greedy and false. "The 
Duke of Bourbon's mistress," wrote Bolingbroke, "is 
attached to him by no inclination, and is at once the 
most corrupt and ambitious jade alive." ^ 

Hardly had the duke assumed his office, when the 
attention of the community was attracted by a new 
vagary of the Bourbon prince, to place whom on the 
Spanish throne Louis XIV. involved France in years 
of war. Superstition constantly gained a stronger 
hold on the cloudy and enfeebled mind of Philip V., 
and now he suddenly announced his intention to abdi- 
cate. This scheme had long been in his mind.^ It 
was not strange that Philip himself should desire a 
life of religious retirement, in the belief that thereby 
he could increase his chance for salvation, but his 
wife was an ambitious woman, who cared for temporal 
as well as spiritual kingdoms. She had long ruled 
her husband with an authority divided only with his 
confessor, and she had no taste for abdications; but 
increasing fear of hell so absorbed Philip's mind that 
at last Elizabeth's influence could no longer prevail 
against it.^ In 1720, he succeeded in having her join 
him in a written promise that they would both retire 
from the world by All Saints' Day, 1723. Doubtless 
the queen thought that if she could postpone the evil 
day for three years, events would arise to change the 
king's mind, but she underestimated his tenacity of 
purpose. To prepare for his retirement he built the 

1 Letter of January 12, 1724. 

2 " Every day," wrote an ambassador, " he has been growing 
more mistrustful, more timorous, and more scrupulous." Aff. 
Etr., 330, 289. 

3 lb., pas. 


magnificent palace of San IMefonso, at the little vil- 
lage of Balsaim, near the gloomy Escurial of Philip 
II. , and there he sought to surround himself with a 
splendor which should remind him of the glories of 
Versailles. His retreat was somewhat delayed, prob- 
ably at his wife's solicitations, but at last he would 
delay no longer. In January, 1724, Philip surprised 
his council by announcing that, after years of reflec- 
tion on the miseries of life, he had resolved to abdi- 
cate his throne in order to devote himself to the ser- 
vice of God and labor at the great work of his own 
salvation.^ He addressed a letter to his son, bidding 
him to govern wisely, to cultivate a special devotion 
for the Holy Virgin, and to sustain the tribunal of 
the Inquisition, that rampart of the faith which had 
preserved the purity of religion in Spain and saved 
her from the heresies which ravaged other lands. ^ 
Having thus displayed the measure of his statesman- 
ship, this infirm representative of the Bourbon family 
retired to seclusion amid the beauties of San Ilde- 
fonso, there to make his salvation sure.^ 

He was succeeded by his son Louis, a prince who 
showed no signs of possessing any greater measure 
of ability than his father. His reign was brief, and 
seven months after his father's abdication the young 

^ Archives (VAlcala. 

2 lb. 

8 Coxe, in his Spain under the Bourbons, advanced the theory 
that Philip's abdication was intended to make it easier for him 
to succeed to the French throne, in the not improbable event of 
Louis XV. 's death. This theory cannot be adopted in view of 
the documents which are not open to examination. Philip always 
intended to claim the French throne if his nephew died, but his 
abdication was due to the morbid piety of a weak mind, and not 
to the counsels of ambition. 


king was carried off by smallpox. A younger bro- 
ther should now have succeeded to the throne, but 
Elizabeth was resolved that she would no longer be 
kept from the enjoyment of power by the sickly piety 
of her husband. Philip himself seems to have wea- 
ried of a life of retirement, and was not averse to 
resuming the crown, but he was now involved in new 
fears. He had promised God to abdicate; could he 
leave his retreat and return to the world without 
incurring fresh danger of perdition? His confessor 
was consulted and, to the dismay of Elizabeth, he de- 
cided that the king would be guilty of grievous sin if 
he violated his promise. "You are a rascal," cried 
the Italian nurse, who was a great personage in this 
strange royal family, to the confessor who had thus 
interfered with the queen's projects. "I would do 
the king good service if I ran a dagger in you." The 
French still fancied that it was for their interest to 
keep the grandson of Louis XIV. on the throne, and 
Marshal Tesse sought to counteract the effect pro- 
duced on the king by the scruples of the confessor. 
At first he was unsuccessful. "I don't want to be 
damned," said Philip to the marshal; "they may do 
what they please with my kingdom, but I am going 
to save my soul." ^ The queen now conceived the 
happy device of consulting the papal nuncio. More 
worldly wise than the confessor, he advised Philip 
that he could resume the crown and incur no risk of 
hell fire, and the monarch allowed himself to be per- 
suaded. For twenty -two years more he remained on 
the Spanish throne, but he still clung to the idea of 
abdication; at times his hypochondriacal fancies were 
especially strong, and in his efforts to carry his pur- 
^ For all this, see correspondence of Tessd, Aff. Etr., 1724. 


pose into effect he showed the cunning which is often 
found in persons of infirm mind. On one occasion 
when the queen had left him for a moment, he hastily 
signed a new abdication, and had it conveyed surrep- 
titiously from his room. She learned of this, and 
succeeded in recapturing the fatal paper before it was 
too late. At last she induced her husband to take an 
oath that he would sign no more abdications; when 
at times he was especially fearful of incurring damna- 
tion by remaining a king, she could threaten him with 
the same danger if he violated his oath. By such 
devices he was kept on the throne imtil his death, but 
it was Elizabeth of Parma, and not Philip of France, 
who controlled the destinies of Spain. 

Bourbon had been anxious that Philip should re- 
turn to the throne, but actuated by his own ambition, 
or by the disappointed vanity of his mistress, the 
duke now decided on a step which caused Spain to 
abandon the alliance of France for that of Austria. 

In 1721, it had been agreed that Louis XV. 
should marry his kinswoman, the Spanish infanta, 
and a daughter of Philip V. She was then a child of 
three, but she was sent to Paris with much parade, 
there to receive a French education, and await the 
proper age for the solemnization of the nuptials. 
Three years had passed since then; to violate this 
agreement and send the princess back to her parents 
was to affront them in the sight of all Europe, and to 
incur the utmost ill will of the Spanish king; but 
the Duke of Bourbon decided upon this step for rea- 
sons personal to himself. The infanta was only six 
years old, and a long time must still elapse before 
the marriage could be consummated; should Louis 
die, leaving no son, the heir to the throne, as by law 


established, was the Duke of Orleans, the person whom 
Bourbon most envied and hated. Moreover the Span- 
ish alliance had been a measure of the regent; the 
future queen would not owe her elevation to Bour- 
bon, and Spain would have no interest in his retention 
of office. He wished to choose a wife for the king 
upon whose gratitude he could rely; a queen with an 
amiable character, a pliant disposition, and a grateful 
heart would insure a continuance of favor to the duke 
and his mistress. 

He accordingly laid before the council the dangers 
which France might incur if Louis remained unmar- 
ried, and advised the immediate choice of a bride of 
mature years. No one ventured to oppose the wish 
of the prime minister. Fleury contented himseK with 
a mild opposition, and the young king, who was not 
yet fifteen, was perfectly indifferent on the subject. 
The infanta was returned to Spain, and her father 
was informed that the desire of all good Frenchmen 
for a dauphin with all possible haste compelled Louis 
to select another person for his wife. Diplomatic re- 
lations between the countries were broken off, but 
Philip"^dia ifot ^allow his pique to lead him to any 
more violent measures.^ 

It was easy to find some one willing to be queen 
of France, and Louis was ready to accept any one 
suggested by his advisers, but Bourbon and Mme. de 

^ The Duke of Bourbon asked Philip to make the husband 
of Mme. de Prie a grandee, a title which would have descended 
to a child Bourbon had by her. (See his letter to Tess^.) If 
this request had been granted, the infanta would probably not 
have been sent away. " ' This one-eyed scoundrel,' said Philip's 
wife, with her usual vigor, ' has sent back our daughter because 
the king would not create the husband of his harlot a grandee 
of Spain.' " Letter of Stanhope. 


Prie were more difficult to please. A list was pre- 
pared, upon which appeared the names of one hun- 
dred princesses, with a statement of their physical, 
mental, and moral qualities.^ Bourbon summarily 
ran his pen through eighty -three of the names, as out 
of the question, and among those rejected was the 
one who finally obtained the prize. Of the seventeen 
that were deemed worthy of discussion, the most eli- 
gible was the Princess Elizabeth of Russia, the daugh- 
ter of P eter the Ii jeat and the future empress of that 
country. Her mo ther, Catherine I.^ undismayed by 
the prospect of ninety -nine competitors, declared that 
in personal charms and in the political advantages 
which she could offer, her daughter outranked them 
all. In part, certainly, her opinion was correct. Rus- 
sian princesses did not yet stand on the same footing 
with those of Austria or Spain ; the marriage of one 
of them with the king of France would have signalized 
the reception of Russia among the civilized states of 
the west, and the choice of Elizabeth would have 
secured for France the active support of her country 
during half a century. Catherine offered to make a 
treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, and to exert 
the influen ce of Russia for the choice of a Fren ch 
prince^as^ing of Poland, if her daughter could be- 
come queen of France. The French ambassador at 
St. Petersburg urged the wisdom of this choice, not 
only on political, but on personal grounds. "In Rus- 
sia," he wrote, "it is an established maxim, that all 
women, from princesses to bourgeoises, have a blind 
submission to the wishes of their husbands."^ 

1 Aff. Etr. Fr., 314. 

^ Letter of Campredon, April 13, 1725. All the correspond- 
ence in reference to the proposed Russian alliance is found in 


But this match was not to Bourbon's taste, and he 
gave little heed to the advantages it might bring to 
France, if it would not advance his own interests. 
The low birth of the mother of the Princess Eliza- 
beth, he wrote, must be regarded as an obstacle to 
her choice, and instead of her, he recommended one 
of his own sisters. As to one of them, the brother 
admitted that something might be said against her 
figure, but the other combined virtue, wisdom, and 
grace. ^ Notwithstanding her attractions, this alliance 
met with opposition. Fleury was not in favor of it.^ 
It is probable also that Mme. de Prie saw no advan- 
tage to herself in making a queen of Bourbon's sister, 
and the voice of his mistress overcame his fraternal 
zeal. The plan was abandoned, and the throne of 
France was offered to a daughter of George I., if she 
would consent to become a Catholic.^ If George had 
been simply Elector of Hanover, such a condition 
would have met with no opposition. Even when the 
choice of a faith was not postponed until the choice 
of a husband, the religion of a daughter of a German 
prince was rarely allowed to stand in the way of her 
advancement. But George was on the throne of 
England as the representative of Protestantism. All 
that kept the Stuart pretender in exile was his Ca- 
tholicism ; if the English people had not regarded the 
Koman church with fear and aversion, an ignorant 
and licentious Hanoverian prince would not have been 

his letters at the Aff. Etr., Cor. de Russie. The subject is weU 
treated by Vandal, Louis XV. et Elisabeth de Russie. 

^ Rapport du due de Bourbon au roi, Aff. Etr. Fr., 314. 

2 Proces verbal, Arch. Nat. j Walpole to Newcastle, March 13, 

8 Aff. Etr. Angleterre, 1725, 350. 


their king ; it was impossible for his advisers to shock 
the Protestant feeling of the country by allowing his 
daughter to embrace the errors of papacy, and the 
proposition was politely declined. 

In this dilemma Bourbon, acting under the advice 
of Mme. de Prie, suddenly decided upon the princess 
who seemed the most unlikely choice of all those 
whose names had been suggested. Stanislaus Lesz- 
czynski was a Polish jiobleman who, Jw the favor of 
Charles XII.,' was elected totne tlitone of^lE^and. 
The defeat of Charles at Pultowa involved the over- 
throw of his protege. Stanislaus fled from his native 
country, after five years' experience in royalty, and 
some time later he found refuge and a smaU pension 
in France. There the dethroned king lived in a very 
modest way, given to piety, and chiefly interested in 
finding an eligible husband for his only daughter. 
The child of a dethroned king of Poland, living on the 
charity of a friendly power, was not a matrimonial 
prize. Her father contemplated marrying her to a 
French marquis, and was in despair when the son of 
a German margrave declined to fulfill his engagement. 
It was understood that the Duke of Bourbon was to 
remarry, and the hand of the princess was offered to 
him. He showed no alacrity in accepting it, but 
Mme. de Prie decided that the princess who had 
sought in vain so many inferior alliances was the 
person to select as the wife of Louis XV. himself. 
/Her character was known to be mild and tractable ; 
' she would owe a lifelong gratitude to those who had 
elevated her from a lot of obscurity and almost of 
need to the most brilliant position in Europe. Ac- 
cordingly a messenger was sent with a demand, in 
the name of the king of France, for the hand of the 


(Princess Marie Leszczynski. If an angel had ap- 
peared at the dilapidated chateau of the exiled king, 
|ie would have occasioned no more surprise, and have 
peen received with no more delight. When the ex- 
traordinary news was announced, father, mother, and 
daughter fell at once on their knees, and thanked God 
ior his great and unspeakable mercies. 

The prospect seemed too good to be true, and the 
letters of Stanislaus show a nervous apprehension lest 
this vision of felicity should prove a dream. But 
Bourbon and Mme. de Prie persevered in their pro- 
ject, and Louis regarded the matter with indifference. 
A special messenger had been sent to investigate the 
merits and demerits of eligible princesses, and his 
report on Marie Leszczynski was highly favorable. 
Her nose, said the faithful agent, was long, but it 
was not large, nor red, nor hooked, while her com- 
plexion was so beautiful that fresh water was the only 
paint it required ; the princess rose at seven and read 
books of devotion and history ; at noon she dined sim- 
ply ; and the afternoon she spent with her mother and 
grandmother, engaged in needlework and in making 
altar ornaments which she gave to churches.^ Such 
a person would seem an ideal wife for a ritualistic 
clergyman, but she was chosen to be a queen. 

This sudden grandeur had its inconveniences. The 
Duke of Antin was sent to make formal demand for 
the hand of the princess, and he came accompanied 
by one hundred and fifty guards and ten carriages, 
each drawn by eight horses, while Stanislaus found 
his few Polish followers quite inadequate to main- 
tain the dignity required in the father of a future 
queen; he had to hire carriages for the state pro- 
1 Aff. Etr. Fr., 314. 


cessions, and was in great straits to borrow twelve 
thousand livres with which to pay his expenses. ^ At 
last the princess was married at the cathedral of 
Strasburg, and she met with an enthusiastic reception 
from her new subjects as she ti-aveled to Paris. She 
described, with some humor, the endless allegorical 
displays which greeted her. " I am constantly meta- 
morphosed: now I am fairer than the Graces, and 
then I have the virtues of the angels; yesterday I 
was the marvel of the world, to-day I am a star that 
sheds benign influences." ^ 

r^Her journey would have been more comfortable 
with fewer fetes and better roads. The weather was 
rainy, and in those days no royal pomp could over- 
come the miseries of travel in bad weather. The 
queen's carriage stuck in the mud, and it needed 
thirty horses to pidl it out. Marie and her suite 
were drenched, and the peasants were ordered out to 
assist in moving the luggage; the crops had been 
bad, and both men and horses looked haK starved; 
as they worked an the mire the new queen had an 
opportunity to compare the squalor and misery of the 
people with the splendor that awaited her at Ver- 

Marie Leszczynski was nearly seven years older 
than her husband; she was very pious, and neither 
brilliant nor beautiful; she played on several instru- 
ments, and on all of them poorly; her voice was 
sweet, but it was very weak ; she was fond of paint- 
ing, but could never learn to draw correctly ; she was 

1 Letters of Stanislaus to Count of Bourg. 
^ Marie Leszczynski to Stanislaus, published in Histoire du 
Roi Stanislas. 

* Journal de Barbier, September, 1725; Mem. d'ArgensoUf i. 53. 


little fitted to exert any permanent influence over the 
man she had married; she tried to please him, and 
only succeeded in boring him. The queen regarded 
Louis with an affection that he was incapable of re- 
turning. " One has never loved as I love him," she 
wrote to a friend of her youth.^ During the years of 
humiliation that followed, when the king was ever 
sinking deeper in vice and sensuality, she bore her 
lot with dignity. She may have felt that she would 
have been happier married to the marquis or the 
margrave than to the king of France, yet she indulged 
in no vain repining. 

The selection of Marie Leszczynski was injudicious 
from a political standjioint, but whether the king 
married a Spanish or a Polish princess really made 
very little difference to France. The measures which 
Bourbon adopted for the treatment of French Protes- 
tants were more important and far more injurious. 
( The reign of Louis XV. v/itnessed the last phases 
of religious persecution in France. Two centuries 
had passed since the great struggle began in that 
jiountry between Catholicism and the reformed creed ; 
/the unequal contest closed when Louis XIV. deprived 
I'the minority of their religious privileges, and a per- 
sistent effort was made to crush dissent. We have 
now to watch the exhibitions of the spirit which had 
animated the dragonnades, appearing half a century 
later, in an era when the foundations of religious 
^belief were beginning to give way. 

As a result of the measures taken by Louis XIV., 
the public worship of the reformed churches was not 
only forbidden, but for a while it was prevented. 
The great body of Huguenots conformed to certain 

^ Marie LeszczyDski to Count of Bourg, December 3, 1728. 


practices of Catholicism in order to avoid the fury of 
persecution ; their children were baptized by priests ; 
on certain festivities they attended the services of 
the church. Even these compliances were denounced 
as idolatrous by the more fervent. "It is said," writes 
one of the pastors, "that there are those so faint- 
hearted as to have their marriages celebrated and 
their children baptized in churches where a piece of 
dough is worshiped instead of the Creator."^ 

This formal submission had encouraged Louis to 
repeal the Edict of Nantes, and he died in the de- 
lusion that those who had once been Huguenots 
were now, with few exceptions, faithful members of 
the true church. An edict published a few months 
before his death declared his solemn conviction. 
"For seventy -two years of our reign we have omitted 
nothing in our power to draw from their errors those 
of our subjects who were born in the reformed reli- 
gion, falsely so called. God has blessed our pious 
intentions in the great number who have abjured that 
creed, and their residence in our kingdom is sufficient 
proof that they have embraced the Catholic and Apos- 
tolic faith. "2 In truth, the number of Protestants 
who really became Catholics and nurtured their chil- 
dren in that faith was insignificant; as soon as the 
vigilance of the government was relaxed they neg- 
lected the services of the Catholic Church, and, when 
they dared, they met in their houses or in the open 
air for the worship of their faith; to use their own 
language, they prayed without ceasing, and waited 
for the deliverance of Zion. 

While repression compelled some to a hypocritical 

^ Rapport d'Antoine Court. 
2 Declaration, March 8, 1715. 


compliance, it rendered more intense the fervor of 
others. The fear of death and of the galleys did not 
deter the faithful from meeting together by day and 
by night, and worshipping God according to their 
own consciences ; when their churches were destroyed, 
the Huguenots took refuge in temples not made by 

Their services resembled those of the Scotch Cove- 
nanters : they gathered amid the hills ; sometimes the 
rain fell in torrents, but it did not disperse the assem- 
blage ; at night, torches lit up the faces of the faith- 
ful, listening to the discourse of the preacher, or sing- 
ing psahns amid the wilderness.^ "Where have you 
preached?" asked the judge of Alexander Roussel, 
one of these itinerant ministers. "Wherever I have 
found Christians gathered together," was the reply. 
"Where has been your domicile?" "Under the 
vault of Heaven." 

This fervent zeal sometimes became fanatical, and 
amid the w^astes of the Cevennes in the early part of 
the century religious enthusiasm turned into frenzy. 
Half -wild mountaineers saw visions and dreamed 
dreams; the gifts of prophecy and of tongues de- 
scended upon many; a child of thirteen months bade 
its parents do works meet for repentance; infants 
babbled prophecy; boys of twelve and fifteen were 
seized by sudden inspiration and addressed assemblies 
in long and fervent exhortations; men fell down and 
rolled on the ground in their struggle with the Evil 
One. The patois of these districts was so different 
from the lano^uao:e talked at Paris that it was noticed 
as miraculous that those possessed by the spirit spoke 
in correct French. In Languedoe, it was said there 
^ Lettre de Court, minis t^re du ddsert, 1728. 


were as many as eight thousand persons filled with 
the spirit of prophecy. The exhorters were generally 
men of very himible lot, filled with sudden religious 
zeal, rather than fitted by study for the duties of the 
ministry; they were weavers, carders, day laborers, 
some of whom could neither read nor write. 

The Camisards, by which name the Protestants of 
the Cevennes were called, organized imder the com- 
mand of leaders possessing military skill as well as 
fanaticism, and an armed theocracy was established 
among these barren and desolate hills. For the most 
part, the Huguenots resembled the Puritans in a 
grave sobriety of dress, but the Camisard captains 
arrayed themselves in velvet mantles of crimson and 
scarlet, plumes floated from their hats, and swords 
with golden hilts were at their sides. Yet if their 
dress was that of the cavalier, their conduct was that 
of the Puritan ; feasting or fighting, walking or rest- 
ing, they prayed and praised God.^ This religious 
excitement developed into rebellion in the later years 
of Louis XIV. 's reign, and the government found 
the task of suppressing the fanatics by no means an 
easy one; by compromise as much as by coercion the 
troubles were at last quieted. ^ From the regency of 
Orleans the oppressed religionists hoped for a larger 
measure of toleration. The regent would gladly have 
accorded it, but he was restrained by the indolence of 
his character, and by his unwillingness to give offense 

1 Theatre sacre des Cevennes^ a curious collection of supposed 
instances of supernatural manifestations, published in 1707. 

2 Theatre sacre ; Histoire des troubles des Cevennes, by Court ; 
correspondence of the superintendents ; and Memoires de Berwick 
et de Villars. The insurrection of the Camisards is fully treated 
in Professor Baird's valuable work, The Huguenots and the Revo- 
cation of the Edict of Nantes. 


to the Jesuit party and the friends of the late king ; 
they might condone the orgies of the Palais Koyal, but 
he knew they would never forgive the toleration of Hu- 
guenots. Still their condition improved ; the favor of 
the court could no longer be gained by executing a 
minister or dispersing an assembly, and the zeal of 
the officers of the government in the work of persecu- 
tion flagged. Under the lead of some devoted men 
the Protestant party in France was again organized ; 
though the services of their religion were forbidden, 
under the penalty of death, the Reformed Church 
steadily increased in strength until at last, seventy 
years later, it was again granted religious freedom. 
Those engaged in the work of reorganization met 
with twofold difficulties. The long repression under 
Louis XIV. had not destroyed the Protestant faith 
in France, but its adherents were bound together with 
no formal tie, and many of them had sought tranquil- 
lity by a nominal profession of Catholicism. On the 
other hand, the excesses of the Camisards were not in 
harmony with the stern and sober theology of the 
Huguenot creed; such men as Antoine Court desired 
neither prophets in trances nor infants exhorting from 
the cradle. The synod which met in 1715 gave no 
encouragement to these vagaries ; it adopted measures 
which were judicious, and some of which may justly 
be called humane. Many of these enthusiastic ex- 
horters had preached for three and four hours at a 
time, but the synod laid down as a rule that no ser- 
mon should last more than an hour and a quarter. 
In those heroic days this allowance of time seemed 
moderate to the hearers as well as to preachers. 

In other regulations, the French Huguenots showed 
close sympathy with the English Puritans; their 


synods denounced with equal severity oaths and 
games, dancing and dancing-masters. 

It was necessary to have a ministry educated for 
the work of exhortation and discipline, but who would 
desire a mission of which the pains and toils were 
incalculable, where neither wealth nor worldly honor 
were to be gained, and where the reward of years of 
hardship might be an ignominious death as a male- 
factor? "We want, for the ministry," said Antoine 
Court, " young men with a taste for martyrdom." 
They were always found. No good cause and hardly 
any bad cause has ever lacked followers willing to 
become martyrs. 
/y The laws enacted by bigotry were slowly falling 
into desuetude; the French people were weary of 
seeing men sent to the galleys because they thought 
I the theology of Calvin better than that of Thomas 
^Aquinas, and the chapter of persecution in France in 
tEe^last century would probably have been a short 
one, if the Duke of Bourbon had not infused new life 
into ancient error ; the edict which he issued was the 
worst measure of his administration, and that is say- 
ing much. 

There had always been those who advocated rigor 
in the treatment of the Protestants and complained 
that the laws against them were in large part allowed 
to become a dead letter. Prominent among these 
advocates of intolerance was Lavergne de Tresson, 
the bishop of Nantes, an ecclesiastic who was said 
to have accimiulated seventy-six benefices, and who 
hoped to round out his career by receiving a cardi- 
nal's hat as a reward for sending Huguenots to the 
galleys. This ambitious and unscrupulous priest had 
argued with Orleans and Dubois in favor of severe 


measures against the Protestants, but from neither 
did he receive any encouragement. Those statesmen 
were not disturbed by religious convictions, and they 
did not seek to feign a religious zeal which should 
take the form of persecution. But in Bourbon the 
bishop found a minister whose intelligence was narrow 
and whose heart was malevolent, and he now obtained 
permission to carry his plans into effect. Notwith- 
standing the disasters of the late years of Louis 
XIV., he was still the great king, and during all the 
reign of his successor, the government tried to cover 
its measures under that majestic shade. I^LJI^Ia^, 
1724, an edict declared that nothing in the policy of 
'tEelhate king was more worthy of imitation than the 
measures he had adopted for the extinction of heresy ; 
the punishment of death was accordingly denounced 
against any one who performed the functions of a 
minister of the reformed faith ; the property of men 
who attended any of its services was to be confiscated, 
and they were to be sent to the galleys, while women 
thus offending were to be imprisoned for life. A 
multiplicity of other regulations of equal ferocity were 
intended to force unwilling subjects to conform to the 
practices of the Catholic Church, and to educate their 
children in that faith. 
yy' In all these barbarous provisions there was nothing 
new; the edict was a reenactment of the code of per- 
secution under Louis XIV., and its penalties were 
already on the statute book. But the rigorous en- 
forcement of these laws had long been relaxed; forty 
years had passed since the dragonnades, and the 
French people were weary of religious oppression. 
New ideas had moderated the intense Catholicism 
of the last century; these measures of bigotry were 



reenacted when Voltaire had already become a popu- 
lar writer, when the "Persian Letters" of Montes- 
quieu were eagerly read, and years after the writings 
of Bayle had begun to exert their dissolving influence 
on French beliefs. The edict of 1724 was followed 
by no such active measures as had been witnessed 
under the ministry of Louvois. If Bourbon was 
equally bigoted, he was less vigorous. Moreover, so 
great had been the change in public feeling that it 
was now impossible to enforce a systematic religious 
persecution in France. In 1685, the revocation of 
the Edict of Nantes had been greeted with enthusiasm; 
in 1724, the effort to compel uniformity of belief 
was received with indifference. Innocent blood was 
^hed by rulers without morality at the instigation 
of priests without religion, but instead of perfecting 
the work of Louis XIV., and exterminating heresy 
in France, these renewed efforts resulted in entire 
failure. The cause of dissent waxed rather than 
waned during the eighteenth century; the attempts 
at persecution were just enough to stimulate and not 
enough to intimidate. They excited little comment 
at the time, and have received little notice from his- 

While the number was small of those who suffered 
in body or estate during the reign of Louis XV. on 
account of their religious beliefs, the treatment of the 
Protestants must not be disregarded among the causes 
which involved the old regime in a sanguinary over- 
throw. The influence of the Protestant population of 
France during this century was lost; it might have 
been unportant. They formed, indeed, a small minor- 
ity, but they were men of strong convictions and reso- 
lute purpose ; though a tendency towards republican- 


ism might have developed among such a body, yet 
the Huguenots could always have been counted upon 
in favor of orderly government, of religious institu- 
tions, of liberty and not of license. They would not 
have been ensnared by the sophisms of Rousseau ; if 
they believed the Catholic Church to be the Scarlet 
Woman, they would not have worshiped the Goddess 
of Reason. But the Protestants were kept under the 
ban of the law until just before the Revolution, and 
even if active persecution ceased, they exercised no 
influence on public thought. 

The untimely oppression of this class brought fur- 
ther evil upon the state. The Gallican Church had 
occupied an imposing position during the seventeenth 
century; it produced great men; great institutions 
of charity and of learning were organized and fos- 
tered under its charge. When a time came which 
threatened its overthrow, when it was attacked by 
philosophers, and jeered at by scoffers, its energies 
were absorbed in wrangling and persecution. The 
clergy who obtained prominence in such issues were 
narrow and bigoted^ ^^n whei;i they were^oLjifreli- 
gious. JansenistsNve^ pur om m Infe ^l^Teca^ise*^ 
they were in error on the doctrines of free will; y^^^, 
Huguenots were sent to the galleys because they held Oy ^^ 
erroneous views about the mass; and this was done 
when the church, like the state, was tottering to its 
fall; if it had not been for bigoted priests and im- 
becile statesmen, the history of the French Revolution 
would have been different. 

The persecution which followed the edict of 1724 
was sporadic, but it furnished the usual phases of 
odious cruelty and of heroic resistance. In forty 
years eight ministers were executed for preaching the 


truth as they understood it.^ If the officials had been 
active in the work, this number would have been 
largely increased. Sixteen ministers had been put to 
death in Langaiedoc alone by the ferocious Baville 
from 1686 to 1698, and the decrease in the number 
of executions was not because the public services of 
the Reformed Church were less frequently held; the 
reverse was the case ; in 1744, ten thousand people 
gathered to hear the preaching of Antoine Court, 
while thirty years before, only fifty or one hundred of 
the faithful had dared to show themselves at such 
assemblies. The crop was abundant, but the arm of 
the reaper was slack. 

It was in 1745 that the minister Roger, one of the 
oldest workers among the pastors of the desert, was 
at last arrested. "It is time you found me," he said; 
"you have been looking for me for thirty -nine years." 
"At last the happy day has come which I have so 
long desired! " he exclaimed, as he mounted the scaf- 
fold. Another pastor, the young Alexander Ramsey, 
was condemned to death, but he escaped his pursuers, 
and for fifty years continued his ministrations in 

The fear of death rarely intimidated a clergy which 
was trained to martyrdom, yet two of them recanted 
at the sight of the scaffold. Both found the remorse 
for such an act worse than death. One fled to Hol- 
land after his release and again professed his faith, 
but nothing in the eyes of such a man could atone for 
having denied the Lord in the hour of peril. A per- 
son who knew him well twenty-five years later has 
described his appearance. The minister was then 
very old, but his face had an habitual expression of 

^ List given by Antoine Court, Le patriate franfais. 


despair, his head was sunk on his shoulders as if in 
shame, and he wearied his friends by constantly refer- 
ring to the awful day when he had been false to the 
faith, and by demanding whether the Lord would 
forgive one who had denied Him before men ; a quar- 
ter of a century of repentance seemed too short to 
atone for such a crime. ^ 

Most of the pastors of the desert performed their 
ministrations for a lifetime and escaped punishment, 
and their followers were equally fortunate. The zeal 
of the persecutors found no encouragement from the 
pacific Fleury; in 1745, there was a short season of 
increased rigor, but the entire number of men and 
women imprisoned or sent to the galleys for religious 
offenses during the forty years following the edict 
of 1724 was probably less than two thousand. ^ It 
was too small to check the progress of dissent, and 
quite large enough to be a blot on the history of the 

The penalties that were enforced were often of re- 
volting severity. One man, seventy-six years of age, 
was sent to the galleys for life for having attended a 
Huguenot service.^ In 1759, a man of eighty-three 
/was still in the galleys, where he had passed twenty- 
/ five years for furnishing refuge to a Protestant pastor; 

^ Feuille religieuse, cited by Coquerel. 

2 From 1745 to 1752, one hundred and sixteen Protestants 
were condemned to the galleys by the Parliament of Grenoble. 
Mem. Hist., 1744-52. But this was a period of unusual activity, 
and Coquerel estimates that on an average not over a third of 
the punishments imposed were carried into execution. The 
number of Protestants in the galleys at Toulon in 1753 was only 
forty-eight, and there the most of those confined for religious 
offenses were stationed. 

^ See his letter of September, 1753, written from the galleys. 


a lady was sentenced to pay a fine of six thousand livres 
and to three years of imprisonment, because she spoke 
words of encouragement to a Protestant on his death- 
bed. In the list of Protestants serving in the galleys 
at Toulon in 1753, we find one who had been con- 
demned for life at the age of fourteen, and who had 
already served thirteen years. Forty-eight Hugue- 
nots were then serving terms at that place ; in 
1759, the number had fallen to forty-one; in 1769, 
one of the last victims was released at the age of 
eighty, after twenty-seven years passed in the gal- 

Among all these sufferers for conscience' sake, the 
lot of the unhappy women imprisoned in the tower 
of Constance, at Aigues Mortes, has excited most 
compassion. The city of Aigues Mortes is one of 
the most ancient and curious in France. Louis IX. 
purchased it from the abbey to which it belonged, 
and from this port the Crusaders sailed under the 
command of the saintly king to the rescue of the 
Holy Sepulchre. The ancient walls still inclose this 
dead city, which commerce deserted centuries ago, 
and which now stands drear and abandoned, sur- 
rounded by long expanses of salt marsh, and looking 
upon one of the most desolate views that the world 
affords. Among other improvements St. Louis re- 
built the great tower at the corner of the fortifica- 
tions, from which the citizens had formerly watched 
for Saracen corsairs, and it received the name of the 
tower of Constance. Its proportions were imposing : 
the walls rose over 110 feet in height, and were 
18 feet in thickness. This desolate and gloomy 
tower, no longer valuable for commerce or warfare, 
1 Lists published in Coquerel, ii. 427. 


the government, in 1717, began to use as a prison for 
Huguenot women incarcerated for disobedience to the 
edicts against their faith. The prison consisted of 
two large, round halls, one above the other ; the lower 
one received its light from above by a hole about six 
feet in diameter, and this also served to carry off the 
smoke ; the upper hall was lighted by a similar open- 
ing into a terrace which formed the roof; these were 
the only openings for air and light, and they let in 
also both rain and wind; the beds were placed around 
the halls, and in the centre the fires were made.^ In 
this gloomy habitation women passed long lives of 
misery, in need, in darkness, in discomfort, listening 
to the distant sound of the waves and to the howl- 
ing of the wind over the marshes, and waiting for 
the day of deliverance, which came not. In 1737, 
twenty-two were there confined, and the number of 
inmates did not vary largely during half a century.^ 
In 1754, one woman had been imprisoned for thirty- 
five years, and one for thirty-one years. Fourteen of 
the twenty-five were over sixty, and twelve had been 
in prison for more than fifteen years. The crime of 
having attended the service of the Huguenot church 
was usually that for which they were sentenced to life 

The letters of one of the prisoners, Marie Du- 
rand, have been preserved, and they throw a curious 
light on the character of these obscure but heroic con- 
fessors. She was arrested when fifteen for attend- 
ing a Huguenot assembly with her mother, and for 
this offense she remained in prison thirty -nine years. 

^ Description by Boissy d'Anglas, who visited the tower in 

2 See lists of prisoners made by Marie Durand and others. 



The treatment accorded her and her fellow sufferers 
illustrates the unconcern with which a decaying sys- 
tem of persecution was administered. These women 
were confined because the government was trying to 
make Catholics out of Protestants, yet once in prison, 
I they were allowed to pray and praise God according 
to their own fashion; no effort was made for their 
conversion ; they corresponded freely with their pas- 
tors, and received from them religious counsel and 
exhortation ; nominally their property was confiscated 
to the state, but the government officials administered 
it for the benefit of the prisoners, and gave them the 
revenues. 1 Still they were not released, for that re- 
quired some act of vigor, some positive departure 
from codes and creeds in which few believed, but 
which all continued to enforce. No one dared to 
touch the crumbling fabric of barbaric laws; these 
unfortunate women did not excite the attention of the 
philosophers; no storm of indignation disturbed the 
government as to the inmates of the tower of Con- 
stance; the prisoners languished in prison, as did 
some in the Bastille, not because any one was anxious 
to keep them in, but because no one troubled himself 
to get them out. 

/ To the humanity of the Prince of Beauvau the most 
/of these women at last owed their deliverance. In 
/ 1768, he visited the tower, accompanied by the Chev- 
( alier of Boufflers. His companion writes that after 
' mounting by dark and obscure staircases, they reached 
\ the prison. "We saw," he says, "a great hall, de- 

1 This curious fact appears from the correspondence of Marie 
Durand with her pastor. She was greatly annoyed by the in- 
efficient manner in which, in her opinion, her property was 


>rived of light and air, and in it fourteen women 
iguishing in misery and tears. The commandant 
f could not contain his emotion; for the first time these 
unhappy women saw compassion on a human face; 
they fell at his feet, bathed them in tears, and told of 
their sufferings. Alas, their only crime was to have 
been bred in the same faith as Henry IV. The 
youngest of these martyrs was fifty years of age."^ 
They were soon released, but even as late as this the 
cause of bigotry found spokesmen. Beauvau was re- 
proached for his humanity by one of the ministers of 
Louis XV., and some priests cried out at this act of 
mercy. But the time for such things was past, and 
no efforts of a few bigots could revive an era of per- 
secution; the Protestants enjoyed a practical tolera- 
tion for quarter of a centui'y before the law secured 
them a legal toleration. 

The persecution of the Huguenots was injurious to 
France, but it would not have shortened Bourbon's 
tenure of office. His financial measures, though less 
blameworthy, aroused more clamor and excited more 
discontent. The financial policy of the administra- 
tion was under the charge of a man by no means lack- 
ing in capacity, and whose career showed that persons 

1 Description by Chevalier of Boufflers, Coqnerel, i. 524. The 
authorities for the treatment of the Huguenots in the last century 
are found in Theatre sacre des Cevennes, Histoire des troubles des 
CevenneSy by Court, Le fran^ais patriate, Muse historique, etc., 
and the numerous papers published by the French Protestant 
Society. The most valuable work is Coquerel's Histoire des 
eglises du desert, for it is founded upon original documents and 
correspondence. The official correspondence of the Count of 
St. Florentin, who for twenty-five years had charge of the affairs 
of the Protestants in the Aff. Etr., contains a history of most of 
their troubles from the standpoint of the government. 


of the very humblest origin could sometimes attain 
wealth and power under the old regime. The Paris 
brothers were the sons of a man who kept a little hos- 
telry in a desolate district near the Alps. When 
travelers came that way, which was not often, the 
four sons groomed the horses of the guest, made the 
beds, and pocketed with gratitude the occasional pour- 
boires. Chance led an army provisioner to ask their 
aid in collecting supplies at a time of special need ; 
they showed such energy and intelligence that he 
retained them in his employ, and in time they them- 
selves became government contractors. Dealing with 
the state furnished almost the only opportunity for 
the acquisition of large wealth ; the great French for- 
tunes of the period, with few exceptions, were made 
from government contracts, or from farms of the 
taxes. The Paris brothers had both; they became 
rich; they became influential; ministers desired their 
assistance and listened to their advice; courtiers 
treated them with deference; even the royal mis- 
tresses did not disdain their good offices: for over 
fifty years they exercised a large influence in the 
finances and the policy of the country.^ Paris Du- 
verney, the ablest of the brothers, secured the favor 
of Mme. de Prie, and became Bourbon's financial 
adviser. The measures he adopted were not success- 
ful, but their failure was not altogether the fault of 
the projector. 

The duke began with repealing various taxes im- 
posed by his predecessor, in order to impress upon 
the public the advantages they had gained by the 
change. This would have been well, but the necessi- 
ties of the government soon compelled the establish- 
* St. Simon, pas. ; Barbier, i. 219. 


ment of new duties, and these were received with in- 
dignant protest. A tax of two per cent, was imposed 
on all incomes, and also on all crops payable in 
kind.^ The mode of payment was ill advised, but 
the law itself was neither unjust nor injudicious; 
unlike most taxes, this fell upon all, and not alone 
upon those who were already overburdened. It was 
greeted with an immense clamor from the poor who 
wished to pay no more, and from the rich who did 
not wish to pay at all, and amidst all the voices of 
protest, that of the clergy was heard with especial 

/ It is impossible to estimate accurately what propor- 
tion the church owned of the entire property of the 
/kingdom; it was probably as much as one quarter, 
/ and all this wealth practically escaj)ed taxation. ^ 
) The general assembly did indeed vote a free - will 
( offering to the support of the king, yet the amount 
! was trifling in comparison with their just proportion 
of the public burdens. They were subject also to 
some forms of indirect taxation, yet we can safely say 
that one half of what the peasant earned by his labor 
was absorbed by the charges of the government, while 
the entire contribution of the clergy was not three per 
cent, of their income. 

The Galilean Church now unanimously protested 
against the attempt to subject its property to the im- 
position of the fiftieth ; the bishops threatened excom- 
munication ; the general assembly remonstrated against 
taking for secular purposes the money that was needed 

^ Declaration, June 5, 1725. 

^ The Venetian ambassador then at Paris estimated that one 
third of the national wealth was in the hands of the clergy. 
MSS. Bib. Nat. 


to furnish a livelihood to Christ's ministers, and to 
soothe the sorrows of the poor.^ If this had been the 
case, the exemption would have rankled less in the 
minds of those whose burdens were thereby in- 
creased; but such an assertion at this time was almost 
a travesty on the facts. The most of the inferior 
clergy were indeed poorly and insufficiently paid ; but 
the wealth of the great ecclesiastics was enormous; 
when a bishop lived like a wealthy duke, and an arch- 
bishop emulated the splendor of a prince of the blood, 
to talk of exempting their incomes from taxation be- 
cause they were needed to soothe the sorrows of the 
poor seemed like a sorry jest. 

The attempt to subject church property to this im- 
post was, however, abandoned; privilege was the 
essence of the old regime ; not only were the protests 
of the clergy respected, but their rights were again 
solemnly proclaimed. An edict issued in October, 
1726, declared that the property of the church was 
consecrated to God, and could never be subjected to 
any tax or imposition whatever.^ Both clergy and 
nobility were successful in resisting the efforts made 
during the century to deprive them of privileges 
which had become odious, but such victories proved 
costly in the end. 

The other financial experiments of Bourbon's gov- 
ernment were equally unsuccessful. The value of the 
livre had been greatly reduced during the speculations 
of the regency, and Paris Duverney now endeavored 
to restore it to its former value. Though something 
could be said in defense of such a measure, a change 
in the nominal value of the currency was attended 

1 Dis. Ven.y 214, 362 et pas. 

2 Declaration, October 8, 1726 ; Anc. loisfran., 21, 301. 


with disarrangement of business and suffering in the 

These frequent changes of nominal values were less 
ruinous than we might suppose; little business was 
done on credit; as there was little confidence, there 
was less possibility of creating a lack of confidence. 
Moreover there was always in circulation a large num- 
ber of old coins and foreign pieces, and to some ex- 
tent affairs on the smaller scale of those days could 
be carried on with them; shopkeepers and peasants 
continued to bargain in Spanish doubloons or the silver 
pieces of Louis XIII., without regard to the value of 
the livre as fixed by the latest edict. Yet this trifling 
with the medium of exchange was injurious in its 
results, and it had much to do with preventing any 
large growth of business and wealth. The French 
currency at last reached a stable basis under Fleury, 
and to this, more than to any other one cause, is due 
the commercial development which France witnessed 
later in the century. 

A widespread discontent was caused by Bourbon's 
measures ; there were risings against the new taxes in 
many of the provinces; the condition of Normandy 
was exceptionally wretched, and riots were frequent; 
the parliament of Brittany besought the king in his 
mercy to save the province from ruin ; in Paris, bread 
and meat were scarce, and the prices were alarmingly 

The changes made in the currency furnished abun- 
dant pretext for grievances, and some of the quarrels 
of workmen with their employers assumed features 
that are familiar in modern strikes. Four thousand 
workers employed in the manufacture of stockings at 
Paris refused to accept a reduction in their nominal 


wages, though the new livre possessed a greater value 
than the old ; those who continued work were assaulted 
and beaten; a fund was raised from which a crown 
a day was given to each man out of employment ; the 
strikers organized themselves into a body, with officers 
to oversee the distribution of the money, and to attend 
to the interests of their cause. The action of the 
government was less modern ; the comptroller general 
decided that such conduct was illegal ; and a dozen 
of the leaders were at once arrested, put in prison, 
and there kept on bread and water. ^ 
/ A new institution illustrated in another way the 
i-pproach to modern forms of business. In 1724, the 
bourse of Paris was organized. ^ The transactions of 
the Kue Quincampoix during the Mississippi excite- 
ment had foreshadowed modern speculation, indus- 
trial development in France demanded some place 
where property could be conveniently sold and trans- 
ferred, and the government recognized the propriety 
/ of placing this under the protection of the state. The 
I site for the Bourse was chosen in the Rue Vivienne, 
I where it still remains, and many of the regulations 
\ have suffered no radical alteration in a century and 
[^a half. Sixty brokers were licensed to buy and sell 
Commercial paper and other securities, their hours 
jwere fixed from ten to one, and their commissions 
■were established at one quarter of one percent., ex- 
/ cept that on the sale of merchandise they could take 
f one half of one per cent. Banks have since then 
1 diverted the purchase of commercial paper from the 
i Bourse, but this still remains the financial centre of 
[ the country, in which transactions daily take place 


* Journal de Barhier, i. 350, 1. 
2 Arret, September 24, 1724. 


(compared with which the dealings of the Rue Quin- 
Icampoix were insignificant. The institution of the 
I Bourse was a result of the new life given to business 
by Law's gigantic operations, and like many other 
results of his activity, it was of assistance in the 
rapid development of wealth which began in the last 

Bourbon's administration might have survived the 
public discontent which it had aroused, but he insured 
his overthrow by an injudicious attempt to rid himself 
of Fleury. Though the former preceptor was willing 
to leave Bourbon at the head of the government, he 
would allow no interference with his own authority. 
He attended all the conferences between Louis and 
the prime minister, and if Fleury advanced an opin- 
ion, it was sure to become that of the king. Wearied 
of this, and sure of the queen's friendship, Bourbon 
held a council in her room, to which Fleury was not 
bidden. The preceptor resolved on a plan that he 
had before adopted with success ; he sent a farewell 
letter to the king, and retired from the court. Doubt- 
less he expected that his recall would be demanded 
by Louis, and so it was. The king was dejected at 
the absence of the man whom he regarded as his best 
friend, and judicious courtiers suggested that he had 
but to order his return. Bourbon had not sufficient 
resolution to persist in his purpose, and he was obliged 
to send a letter written with his own hand, asking 
Fleury to come back ; the discreet preceptor promptly 
acceded, and assumed his position in the councils of 
the king with a recognized ascendency which was not 
again questioned.^ 

The ministry lasted a few months longer, but 
1 Walpole to Newcastle, June 13, 1726. 


Fleury at last decided to take the administration into 
his own hands. Bourbon and Mme. de Prie were 
universally hated, and there was no risk in overthrow- 
ing a prince of the blood who had made himself odious 
to all. Louis was ready to do whatever his adviser 
counseled, and he performed his part with the dis- 
simulation for which he had a natural talent. On 
the morning of June 11, 1726, the king parted from 
Bourbon with unusual affability, and said as he left 
him, "My cousin, do not keep us waiting for supper 
to-night." The duke was not to enjoy the honor of 
supping with his sovereign ; as he prepared to follow 
to Rambouillet, the captain of the guards handed him 
a lettre de cachet^ dismissing him from office, and 
ordering him to retire forthwith to Chantilly and 
there remain. He obeyed without resistance. His 
career was ended, and for the rest of his life he was 
a political nullity. Business had been poor under 
his rule ; distress was prevalent, and bread was dear ; 
the police authorities had to interfere to prevent 
bonfires blazing in all the streets of Paris in token of 
the popular joy at the overthrow of the minister.^ 

Mme. de Prie was exiled to Normandy, where she 
literally wasted away with rage and disappointed am- 
bition, and died within a few months. ^ Her lover 
took his fate more calmly ; at Chantilly he had game 
preserves that could not be excelled in France; he 
gathered about him a collection of wild beasts, whose 
savage nature had peculiar charm for him, and he 
diverted himself in watching their ways ; with his pri- 
vate wealth and the pensions and sinecures which he 

1 Barbier, i. 428. 

^ Mem. d^Argensoriy i. 61. 


still enjoyed, he had an income of two millions, and 
he consoled himseK for political insignificance. The 
Paris brothers were also sent into exile, but for men 
of their ability time was sure to bring new opportu- 


After Bourbon's dismissal it was decided to imi- 
tate one of the famous incidents of the administration 
of Louis XIV. Almost in the words of his great- 
grandfather, Louis XV. declared that henceforward 
he shoidd be his own chief minister, and that the 
members of his council could address themselves to 
him for instruction as to their duties. In words only 
did the young king imitate his ancestor; Louis XIV. 

i never abandoned the endeavor to rule his kingdom 
himself, but Louis XV. did not even make the at- 

j tempt. Doubtless it was at Fleury's suggestion that 
his pupil professed a desire to take upon himself the 
duties of his office ; alike in youth and age Louis XV. 
was a faineant king, not from lack of ability, but from 
lack of interest. While Fleury lived, the king was 
willing that he should do as he pleased, and he re- 
posed in his former tutor a confidence that was not 
misplaced; after the cardinal's death ministers were 
left to their own devices, not because Louis trusted 
them, but because he was too indifferent to interfere. 
Fleury was in his seventy-third year when he as- 
sumed the duties, though not the title, of prime min- 
ister. He declined to accept that office, saying that he 
would be only an adviser to the king, but in fact the 
will of the minister was law; Fleury had been coy in 

C* g authority, but he clung to it with tenacity, 
i jealous of the slightest division of power. 



In many things he resembled his contemporary, Sir 
I Robert Walpole, and like him he wished no partners 
\in business. 

Fleury was soon made a cardinal, and thus took his 
place in the line of succession from Richelieu, Maza- 
rin, and Dubois, who had combined the dignity of the 
cardinalate with the power of a prime minister. 
None of his predecessors had exercised so unques- 
tioned an authority; he was sure of the affectionate 
docility of his former pupil ; there was no Day of the 
Dupes during his administration, because no one for 
a moment thought it possible to induce the king to 
dismiss the cardinal. Fleury did not wish to have his 
master take an active part in matters of state, Louis 
did not wish to do so, and they dwelt together in 
perfect harmony. 

Nor was Fleury exposed to any danger from the 
popular hostility, that had twice driven Mazarin from 
- his place ; the conditions which made a Fronde pos- 
sible no longer existed in France, and the time was 
past when any nobleman, however powerful, contem- 
plated the possibility of taking up arms against the 
royal authiitit5[i,.^hus the cardinal was left to enjoy 
yi^eventeen years of power undisturbed by court in- 
I trigues, untrammeled by the king, and unaffected by 
I popular criticism. On the whole, this long adminis- 
tration was beneficial to France. Fleury was not a 
man of original mind, nor one who would seek to 
change the institutions which he found established. 
By temperament he was cautious even to timidity, 
disinclined to meddle in the affairs of the community, 
or to take part in the disputes of other countries ; the 
authority of the state was exercised with somewhat 

(diminished activity, and the citizen enjoyed the ad- 
vantages of being let alone. 


Though the great industrial and commercial devel- 
opment of France came somewhat later in the cen- 
tury, yet improvement could be seen in the time of 
Fleury, and in some measure he contributed to that 
result. His administration was an economical one, 
and thrift in the government expenditures was a 
boon to the country. After the long depression at 
the close of Louis XIV. 's reign and the wild and 
ruinous speculation of the regency, came a period of 
quiet, of moderate taxation, and of recuperation. In 
the towns, in manufactures, and in commerce, there 
was a substantial growth. If the development of the 
French colonies was small when compared with those 
of England, it was more rapid than it had been be- 
fore. Whatever harm had resulted from Law's un- 
dertakings, they gave new life to French enterprise ; 
the revolution in French trade in the eighteenth 
century attracted little attention amid the political 
changes which took place, but it exercised a large 
influence upon them; the petty shopkeeper of the 
Valois period was rapidly becoming the merchant of 
modern times, and the growth of a rich and influen- 
;tial bourgeoisie introduced a new factor into social 
and political life. There is no surer test of prosper- 
ity than an increase in the revenue, when this is not 
caused by the imposition of new taxes. In 1726, the 
farms yielded eighty millions ; in 1742, they produced 
ninety-one millions. ^ "The finances," wrote Barbier 
;in 1737, "are in better condition than they have ever 
^been, and it will be a misfortune to lose the cardinal." 
In both his statements the Parisian bourgeois was right. 
In part, this result was due to the fact that Fleury 
insisted upon business methods that had long been 
1 Mdm. sur les recettes gendrales, MSS. Bib. Nat. 



lacking. The cardinal made no radical alterations in 
the established system, he made no effort to do away 
with the vicious institution of farmers general, but 
he did the best he could with the administrative 
methods which he found in force. He was by nature 
thrifty; courtiers jested at the scanty fare he set be- 
fore his guests, — the plain roast and the four entrees 
which he could never be persuaded to exceed, — but 
the prudent economy manifested in his own life he in- 
troduced into the state, and it was a wholesome change 
from the costly display which had been dear to Louis 
XIV. 1 Those bred to the idea that a king could not 
be too liberal sneered at what were called the cheese- 
paring methods of the cardinal, but they resulted in 
a surplus, a thing unknown in French finance since 
the days of Colbert.^ With one exception his admin- 
istration was free from the attempts at partial repu- 
diation which had injured the national credit and 
compelled the government to borrow at exorbitant 
rates. Soon after he assumed office various annuities 
and obligations paying less than ten livres a year 
were canceled ; it was repudiation on a diminutive 
scale. This measure was the more unjust because it 
fell on small holders. The income of a hundred poor 
men was reduced, said a critic, while on the same day 
pensions to the amount of fifty-six thousand livres 
were granted the family of a retiring official ; what the 
government gained by injustice it lost by prodigality.^ 
Such proceedings had been common in the past, but 
they were not to Fleury's taste. In the future the 

^ Mem. de Chevemy ; Mem. de Luynes, v. 242. 
2 There was a surplus for only a brief period, the expenses of 
war resulting again in a small deficit. 
8 Journal de Barhier, August, 1727. 


interest on the debt was paid regularly and at the 
rate agreed upon; there were no pale rentiers while 
the cardinal was at the head of the administration, 
and under him there was a reduction of the national 
indebtedness, not by repudiation, but by honest pay- 
ment out of surplus revenues. 

In the two years prior to the war of the Austrian 
Succession there was a surplus of fifteen millions annu- 
ally, — a phenomenon which was not again witnessed 
under the old regime. Nor was there any foundation 
for the charge so often made that Fleury sacrificed the 
marine to a false economy. In 1725, under Bourbon, 
twelve million livres were spent on the marine; in 
1739, under Fleury, the expenditures reached nineteen 
millions, an amount hardly inferior to the sum spent 
under Louis XIV. in times of peace. ^ 

The improved condition of the national finances 
under Fleury had a beneficial effect on business, but 
the country owed to him a still greater boon. The 
currency was at last established on an immovable 
basis, and this measure did more to accelerate the 
increase of wealth and the development of industry 
than all the commercial codes at which Colbert so 
earnestly labored. For the first time in French his- 
tory the country enjoyed during a long period an 
unchanged standard of value; as it had been fixed, 
so it remained. 

The alterations made by the government in the 
established value of coins had been frequent; from 
the days of Charlemagne to those of Louis XV. the 
fraudulent process had gone on, until a livre in 1726 
contained only a one-seventy-second part of the in- 
trinsic value of a livre in 814. The sovereign had 
1 Clamageran, iii. 281, citing Arch. Nat. 


usually been in financial straits, and a depreciation of 
the currency seemed a simple way to pay his debts. 
It had been less evident that such measures would 
diminish his revenues by lessening the wealth of his 
subjects, but this constant juggling with the currency 
rendered it almost impossible to carry on business on 
an extended scale. 

In 1726, the last change in the French standard 
was adopted under the influence of Paris Duverney. 
It was declared in the edict that the values thus es- 
tablished should be maintained; the promise had 
often been made in the past and never observed ; this 
time the government kept faith with the people; 
subject to some trifling changes, French coins have 
remained of the same weight and fineness from that 
day to this. 

Fleury's action seemed simple, and yet it pro- 
duced far-reaching and most beneficial results; he 
took the standard as he found it, and would not allow 
it to be altered; he was essentially an honest man, 
and in refraining from tampering with the currency 
he did a good work, the importance of which probably 
he did not himself realize. By the edict of 1726, the 
'value of a gold mark was established substantially 
as it has remained; the ratio of gold to silver was 
fixed at about fifteen to one, and that figure closely 
represented the relative value of the two metals for 
a century and a half. 

By the end of Fleury's long administration, the 
financial principles adopted by him had taken root. 
Business had improved, and the national income in- 
creased in an era of fixed values and of reasonable 
stability ; the idea of tampering with the currency no 
longer suggested itself as an advisable way of helping 


the treasury, and was not again adopted under the 
old regime. Freed from the uncertainties which had 
threatened them, French trade and* commerce devel- 
oped during the fifty years before the Revolution 
with greater rapidity than at any time in the history 
of the past. It was possible to undertake new enter- 
prises, with the assurance that a contract for a thou- 
sand louis would represent the same value ten years 
in the future, that the obligation of the government 
or of a merchant would be paid in the same currency 
as that with which the lender parted ; of all the causes 
which assisted in the industrial development of France 
in the eighteenth century, this, which has received 
the least attention, was perhaps the most potent. 
/'The 15th of June, 1726," an eminent historian has 
/said, "is a great date in the economical history of 
I France ; the era of false money closed, the era of an 
Shonest and fixed currency begun." ^ 

In another direction the development of the country 
was aided by government action, for the improvement 
of highways made rapid progress under Fleury. In 
the last century the condition of French roads had 
been lamentable ; in many mountainous districts the 
inhabitants laid in provisions for six months, be- 
cause for so long a time as that communication with 
the outside world was impossible. ^ Even in more 
level and populous sections the condition of things 
was not very much better ; over a large proportion of 
the highways no one ever went by carriage ; the Turk- 
ish ambassador has described his journey from Toulon 
to Paris during the regency, and the difficulties he 
encountered in traveling through the centre of France 

1 Clamageran, Histoire de Vimpot, iii. 240. 
^ Mem. de Vintendant de Montauban. 


were greater than now beset the trapper making his 
way over mountain paths in Colorado. ^ There was 
indeed some improvement under Louis XIV., but 
the country was large and progress was slow. 

In the following century the amelioration of high- 
ways went on at a greatly accelerated pace, and it 
was assisted by an important change. Some of the 
chief highways were abeady under government su- 
pervision, but many remained under the control of 
neighboring noblemen. It was not strange that their 
condition was almost uniformly bad; if the noble- 
man exerted himseK at all, it was usually to compel 
the construction of a convenient road to his own cha- 
teau by means of forced labor, and it was rarely that 
the interests of a large proprietor and of the towns or 
peasants in the vicinity would be the same. Naturally, 
therefore, the roads near a gentleman's house were 
often unnecessarily good, while in other localities 
they were reprehensibly bad. In 1738, the king 
assumed exclusive control of all the principal high- 
L ways, and an intelligent and active attention was given 
1 them. Out of this change, with all its benefits, grew 
( an additional and sometimes a very grievous burden 
upon the peasantry. The royal corvee came into 
/ existence in a perfectly fortuitous way, without even 
the formality of an edict. Among feudal privileges 
had long existed the right of the seigneur to a cer- 
tain amount of unpaid labor from his tenant, and this 
was exacted for road building as well as for other 
uses. There had been no royal corvee; even if the 
government sometimes compelled men to perform 
work for which it did not pay, such cases were ex- 
ceptional and were sanctioned by no law. Under 
^ Relation de VAmhassade de Mehemet Effendi. 


Fleury's administration this practice became a recog- 
nized institution, though still it might be said that 
it was without any sanction of the law. When the 
government assumed control of the highways, to make 
men work without pay often seemed an easy way to 
omplete a job, and in 1738, the comptroller general, 
y a simple instruction to minor officials, authorized 
he use of forced labor on public works. On this in- 
brmal memorandum rested a usage which soon became 
heavy burden on the peasants. 
The practice appeared so convenient to the govern- 
ment that it was approved, though it had not been 
formally imposed, and in time the corvee came to be re- 
garded a legal imposition, no more to be resisted than 
the taille. A peasant required by an official to give 
his labor on some public work was in no position to 
question the legality of the requisition, and th6 extent 
of the demands made upon him varied with the needs 
of the service. It was regulated somewhat by custom 
and still more by caprice. From the age of sixteen to 
sixty every one subject to the taille could be compelled 
to render gratuitous labor on government work, and 
no limit was placed on the time that he could be thus 
employed ; it ranged from eight to fifty days, and the 
man who did not work with sufficient industry could 
be imprisoned. 

This new tax, like many other taxes, fell entirely 
on the peasantry ; no one thought of requiring a gen- 
tleman either to work or to furnish a substitute ; the 
artisan escaped under the protection of the city in 
which he dwelt ; the agricultural laborer was regarded 
as the natural subject for taxation ; he was defense- 
less, he was the easiest person from whom to demand 
assistance, and upon him alone fell the burden of the 
royal corvee. 


Like most taxes under the old regime, this was an 
injudicious one. Long before, Colbert had experi- 
mented with forced labor in government work, and 
his good sense convinced him that it was not profit- 
able even to the government. The system imposed 
great hardship on the peasants ; they were often taken 
far from their homes, and they rendered their service 
grudgingly. A slight increase to the taille would have 
cost the taxpayers less and been worth more to the 

Yet, though this imposition was costly and unjust, 
it produced valuable results. The work done by the 
corvee was almost entirely in the building of high- 
ways; when similar labor had been rendered at the 
request of great landowners, it had rarely been judi- 
ciously applied, but under the direction of govern- 
ment officials a system of roads was constructed in 
France, which could be equaled in no other part of 
Europe, and which proved an important factor in the 
rapid development of French wealth. Under Louis 
XV. it was estimated that in all six thousand leagues 
of road were built by the state. The magnificence 
of the highways constantly attracted Arthur Young's 
attention when he traveled in France shortly before 
the Revolution. "If the French have not husbandry 
to show us," he writes, "they have roads; nothing 
can be more beautiful." "Coming from Spain," he 
says again, "you tread at once on a noble causeway, 
made with all the solidity and magnificence that dis- 
tinguishes the highways of France." Some of these 
indeed he found more costly than was required by the 
necessities of the travel that passed over them, but it 
was better to have the roads too good than too bad. 
The administration of Cardinal Fleury covered 


more than one third of Louis XV. *s actual reign; 
the king was little over twenty when his former 
preceptor became prime minister; he had grown to 
be a man of almost forty when Fleury died, but he 
took no more active part in the work of government 
at the close of the cardinal's rule than at its besrin- 
ning. It is probable that the minister was willing 
that his former pupil should follow his advice without 
question ; he did not relish interference from his mas- 
ter any more than from his associates, but at least he 
used his influence to keep Louis a respectable though 
a faineant ruler. The cardinal did not seek to base 
his favor on the good will of some mistress; though 
the queen bore him no love, he never sought to under- 
mine her position. 

/\i was not until towards the close of Fleury 's min- 
stry that Louis began to indulge in dissipations which 
ecame more shameless with advancing years. In 
his respect the king's career was as curious as it was 
medifying. Strict regard for conjugal fidelity had 
lot* been a characteristic of French kings, and they 
lad suffered little in the opinion of their people on 
That account. A king's wife was selected for politi- 
cal and not for personal reasons ; if he turned his eyes 
elsewhere, he was not apt to sigh in vain, and it is 
doubtful if many of his subjects thought any the 
worse of him for occasional deviations from the paths 
/of rectitude. But Louis XV. was timid by tempera- 
I ment and cold in heart, and it needed a professional 
Lothario like the_Duke_j3[fJKichelieu to embark him 
in a course of gallantry. When he was young he led 
a life of great propriety ; he began a career of license 
when most men feel that it is time to be done with 
youthful follies; few French gentlemen were such 


/models of virtue as Louis XV. at twenty, and no 
I French gentleman was so sunk in low sensuality as 
(Louis XV. at sixty. 

Fleury's love of peace inclined him to a cautious 
policy in his dealings with foreign powers, but the 
cardinal was shrewd as well as pacific, and he kept 
France free from embarrassing entanglements without 
any loss of national prestige. It was from Spanish 
complications that war seemed most likely to arise. 
In 1727, the Spanish began a long and useless siege 
of Gibraltar, and their queen was eager for hostilities 
in Italy in order to make Italian princes of her sons. 
Fleury was not inclined to go to war on Elizabeth's 
account, and for some years the relations of the Span- 
ish Bourbons were more intimate with the Austrians 
than with their French cousins. 

By a treaty signed in 1725, Spain had guaranteed 
the Pragmatic Sanction, and in return there had 
been vague hopes held out of a marriage between the 
sons of Elizabeth and the two daughters of Charles 
VI. Such an alliance would again have united the 
Houses of Spain and Austria, but it is doubtful if 
the emperor entertained the idea seriously, and in 
the mean time he himself was threatened with war by 
England and Holland unless he abandoned the com- 
mercial company by means of which he hoped to 
rebuild the ruined trade of Ostend. Largely on ac- 
count of the exertions of Walpole and Fleury, none of 
these grounds of dispute resulted in a breach of the 
peace, and at last by the treaty of Vienna signed in 
1731 the emperor abandoned the Ostend company, 
and Don Carlos took possession of the duchy of 
Parma with the promise of becoming Grand Duke of 
Tuscany on the death of the present ruler, who was 
the last of the line of the Medicis. 


If the cardinal was able to avert war abroad, he 
was less successful in stilling the disturbances which 
were excited in the church and the Parliament by the 
disputes between Jesuit and Jansenist theologians. 

The famous bull Unigenitus was issued by Pope 
Clement XI. in 1713, and Louis XIV., whose re- 
ligious policy was controlled by the Jesuits, had 
insisted that it should be received as part of the 
ecclesiastical polity of his kingdom. It censured one 
hundred and one propositions approved by the Jan- 
senist doctors, and had been extorted from the Pope 
by his Jesuit advisers, as a solemn condemnation of 
the heterodox views of their enemies. For that very 
reason the judges, who bore a traditionary hostility to 
the Society of Jesus, insisted that the Unigenitus 
should not be accepted as a declaration of faith bind- 
ing on members of the Gallican Church, and they 
steadfastly opposed its registration. Very largely 
the people of Paris, the university, the bourgeoisie, 
were Jansenist in their sympathies, and for the same 
reason as the judges; they understood little of the 
abstruse doctrines dear to the disciples of the Port 
Royal, but they disliked the Jesuits and therefore 
they viewed their adversaries with approval. During 
almost half a century of conflict over these questions 
between the courts and the king, popular sympathy 
was always with the former. Louis XIV. did indeed 
compel the registration of the Constitution, as the 
bull was commonly styled, but the courts never ceased 
to protest against it, and to declare that it was not 
binding on the consciences of French believers. 

If the judiciary were not disposed to yield an un- 
questioning obedience to papal declarations of the 
faith, the great majority of the superior clergy were 


strongly ultramontane. This had not always been 
so, but the French clergy were essentially royalist, 
and when the king was zealous in his acceptance of 
the papal decree, they were not apt to lag behind in 
obedience to the head of the church. For a century, 
appointments to important ecclesiastical offices in 
France had been for the most part controlled by the 
Jesuits, and when a Jesuit confessor advised with his 
royal penitent as to the persons fit for the gi«at dig- 
nities of the church, a Jansenist was hardly riore apt 
to be recommended than a Mahometan. As a result, 
there were few possessors of bishoj)rics or rich abbeys 
who did not regard those who refused to accept the 
Unigenitus as no better than heretics. This would 
have done little harm if they had been content to 
keep their opinions to themselves, but their efforts at 
proselytiz ing often took the form of persecution. 

In the early part of Louis XV. 's reign there were 
still a few bishops in sympathy with the Jansenist 
party, and among the lower clergy it had numerous 
supporters. Those who clung to doctrines that were 
now condemned at Rome soon began to suffer from 
the assaults of their more orthodox brethren. The 
Bishop of Senez, in his pastoral, took occasion to 
attack the bull, and his brethren decided that this 
infraction of discipline must not go unpunished. A 
council met and solemnly condemned his position ; the 
bishop was declared guilty of seditious heresy, he was 
deprived of his bishopric and ordered to retire to 
a remote abbey. The circumstances connected with 
this vindication of the faith were singularly unfortu- 
nate, and the action of the council of Embrun was 
among the injudicious measures by which the Jesuits 
in this century unnecessarily outraged public senti- 



ment. The Bishop of Senez was an old man of 
eighty ; he had been known as a preacher of ability ; 
he had led a life of apostolic zeal, beloved by his 
flock, and giving to the poor with an ahnost unexam- 
pled liberality. The council which convened to con- 
demn a man of saintly character was presided over 
by Tencin, the Archbishop of Embrun, a person of 
unquestioned capacity, but of notorious immorality. 
Tencin had been judicially convicted of simony; he 
had made his way in the world partly by the good 
judgment he showed in using Dubois's money in pur- 
chasing for him his promotion to the cardinalate, and 
partly by the influence of his sister, who was an apos- 
tate nun and a courtesan of high degree. 

This imprudent piece of persecution was followed 
by other steps that were no wiser. Some cures of 
Paris were deposed because they would not acknow- 
ledge the authority of the bull ; some advocates of the 
Parliament signed a protest against its doctrines and 
were sent into temporary banishment. In 1730, by 
a royal edict, all priests of whatever degree were 
ordered to accept the Unigenitus without modification 
or discussion, and if they failed to do so their bene- 
fices were to become vacant. This edict was certainly 
a very outrageous act, and the Parliament refused 
to register it. Thereupon the king went in person to 
enforce its registration by a bed of justice. He was 
received in gloomy silence ; not a single cry of Vive 
le roi was heard as Louis passed into the Parliament 
on his errand, and this silence was so unusual amid 
a loyal and enthusiastic people that it excited much 
comment. The Parliament was solemnly forbidden 
to discuss these questions, but to such orders the 
judges gave no heed; more royalist than the king, 


they declared that they must be firm against the 
monarch himself when he misunderstood his rights 
and advocated doctrines in which the superiority of 
ecclesiastical authority was asserted almost in the 
language of Gregory and Innocent. ^. 

Zealous bishops continued to issue fervent pas- 
torals, and when these were unacceptable to the Par- 
liament the court condemned them as seditious, and 
ordered them to be burned by the hangman; the 
bishops complained that the judges supported doc- 
trines contrary to the faith; the judges replied that 
the bishops preached doctrines subversive of the 
state. Amid all this wrangling the public was con- 
stant in its animosity against the Jesuits, and mani- 
fested this on every occasion. A legacy made to a 
Jesuit house was attacked as illegal ; apparently there 
was little cause for questioning the validity of the 
bequest, but it was set aside, and the announcement 
of the decision was greeted with ai3plause in the court- 
room. As the Jesuit fathers retired, they had to pass 
through a hooting and jeering mob, which threw mud 
at them literally as well as figuratively. Journals 
and broadsides indulged in unmeasured abuse of the 
Jesuit party, and all efforts to suppress them were 
without success. The history of one of these papers, 
called "Nouvelles Ecclesiastiques," is curious, because 
it illustrates the laxity with which the administration 
under Louis XV. was carried on. While the sever- 
ity of ancient legislation as to the press was preserved 
and in some cases increased, a lax enforcement often 
allowed greater license than would be suffered under 
many modern governments. Nothing could be stricter 
fthan the French code by which the censorship of the 
jpress was sought to be established ; no book or paper 



could be published unless it had first received the ap- 
proval of the government ; unless fortified with such 
approval it could not be sold, and grievous penalties 
were imposed for any violation of these regulations. 
The author, the publisher, and even the seller could be 
\ branded, confined in prison, sent to the galleys ; even 
I death was declared the penalty for some offenses. 
While all these laws were in force, in 1728, the 
publication of the "Nouvelles Ecclesiastiques " was 
begun. This periodical became the avowed organ of 
the Jansenist party, and in its pages were found the 
most virulent abuse of the Jesuits and of ecclesiastics 
thought to be friendly towards them; regardless of 
rank or office, bishops, priests, and deacons were dis- 
cussed with equal freedom, and in theological acerbity 
the paper did not fall short of the best models. It is 
needless to say that such a journal received no license ; 
it was especially obnoxious to the authorities, and the 
police sought to discover the guilty parties who sup- 
plied the public with heterodox literature. Yet not- 
withstanding such efforts and all the rigorous laws 
against unauthorized publications, the " Nouvelles Ec- 
clesiastiques " continued to be published at Paris for 
over sixty years, and was distributed to its subscribers 
with almost as much regularity as the "Times" now 
is in London. It was not possible to suppress this 
journal with ease, and the government lacked the 
energy for the resolute and persistent effort that 
would have been required to stamp it out. Occasion- 
ally the police laid hands on some vender or porter in 
possession of the forbidden sheet, but such persons 
were unacquainted with the editors or publishers of 
the paper, and in its delivery it passed through so 
many hands that no one could trace the responsible 


parties. With laws for the censorship of the press 
quite as strict as they are to-day in Kussia, works 
attacking the church and criticising the state circu- 
lated in France under Louis XV. with almost as 
much freedom as in England. 

The efforts of the clergy to suppress such publica- 
tions were no more successful than those of the police. 
The Archbishop of Paris threatened with excommuni- 
cation the members of his flock who continued to read 
the "Nouvelles Ecclesiastiques," but the paper was 
read all the same. In one of his pastorals he inserted 
some paragraphs recognizing the authority of the 
Unigenitus, and ordered his clergy to • read this in 
their churches. Twenty-one cures forthwith signed a 
protest, refusing to obey, and the archbishop deprived 
them of their livings. The cure of St. Jacques was 
more obedient. He had been recently appointed, and 
on the 11th of May, 1732, he took possession of his 
new charge. A great crowd had gathered to listen 
to his first discourse, and all went peaceably until the 
cure, after making some remarks on the obedience 
due the authorities of the church, put his hand in his 
pocket as if he were about to draw from it the offend- 
ing pastoral. Instantly there began a great tumult. 
Two thousand people arose and hastened to leave the 
building, lest their ears should be offended by listen- 
ing to the utterances of the archbishop ; they threw 
over the chairs and elbowed one another in their 
eagerness to escape from the sanctuary that was thus 
to be desecrated ; a few faithful old women remained, 
and when the noise had ceased so that his voice could 
be heard, the cure proceeded to read the obnoxious 

pastoral. 1 

i Mem. de Barbier, ii. 266. 


In such a controversy the Parliament was sure to 
interfere, and naturally it espoused the cause of the 
disobedient cures. The king bade the judges to cease 
deliberating about the affairs of the church. They 
presented their remonstrances, but were received with 
scant courtesy. "I have told you my wish," said 
Louis, "and it must be executed. I want no remon- 
strances and no replies. You have merited my indig- 
nation. Be more obedient, and attend to your legal 
duties." "Sire," said the president, beginning to 
reply. "Be still," cried the king; and the president 
did not venture to continue. Thereupon another of 
the court presented a written paper. "Tear it up," 
said the king, and it was forthwith destroyed. 

The judges were none the more amiable for such 
rebukes. There were commands, they argued, which 
must be disobeyed ; suppose the king had given orders 
that he was not to be aroused ; if his palace took fire, 
could they leave him to perish rather than disobey? 
"This is our position now," they said: "the king 
sleeps, his kingdom is on fire, it is for us to arouse 
him." The monarch was unwilling to be aroused by 
his Parliament, and one hundred and fifty judges 
thereupon signed a paper abandoning their positions. 
"We cannot disobey the king," they declared, "nor 
can we neglect the duties of our office, and there- 
fore we must resign them." They marched from the 
Parliament building in solemn procession, two by 
two, their eyes bent upon the ground, amid a vast 
multitude, who expressed their approval by crying 
out, "There are the true Romans, the fathers of the 

In all these conflicts between the Parliament and 
the monarch there was an element of weakness and 


insincerity, and as a result the French kings and their 
judges wrangled for two hundred years without estab- 
lishing a single principle that was of advantage to the 
political development of the state. A class of men 
holding judicial positions by inheritance or purchase 
could by no possibility exercise a check on royal au- 
thority that would be of much value to the commu- 
nity, and if the judges were now popular, it was chiefly 
because their opponents were unpopular. "The true 
Romans " had no thought of permanently abandoning 
the valuable offices which constituted their dignity 
and furnished their livelihood ; the king had no wish 
to lose the services of men who were well equipped 
for their judicial duties, and were respected in the 
community, and Fleury was eminently well adapted 
for settling controversies which neither party desired 
to carry to an undue extreme. He had been educated 
in Jesuit schools, and his relations with the order 
were friendly ; as a priest his sympathies were with 
the ultramontane party, and he was content to accept 
the Unigenitus ; but he was not a virulent bigot ; he 
was by temperament opposed to extreme measures; 
he had no taste for persecution, and a strong taste for 
tranquillity. When such were the feelings of the 
opposing factions, some residt was sure to be reached 
by which the dignity of both would be saved, and the 
state would be neither better nor worse for their con- 
tention. The recalcitrant judges were sent into tem- 
porary exile. "That will cahn them," said an impar- 
tial spectator ; " they will regret Paris, their theatres, 
their country parties, and their mistresses ; they will 
be put to much expense and get little pleasure." 

This forecast was verified, and after a brief period 
of exile the disputes between the monarch and his 


/Courts were adjusted. Some edicts which were offen- 
/ sive to the dignity of the judges were suspended ; in 
' return for this the spokesman* of the Parliament de- 
clared in the name of the body that they recognized 
the absolute and sovereign authority of the king. 
"We know," said he, "that he is the master; it is 
for him to command and for us to obey." This was 
a perfectly just statement of the legal relations be- 
tween the king and the courts : the monarch had by 
law the right to command, and the Parliament was 
bound to obey. It had indeed the right to advise, 
but the right to give advice is not an important one. 
The judges resumed their functions, and the disputes 
over the Unigenitus were forgotten in the war of the 
Polish Succession, which soon began. 

While the quarrels were waging, the community 
was agitated by the curious manifestations known as 
the miracles of the Deacon Paris. The Jansenists 
were as ready as their opponents to give credence to 
the direct interposition of the Divinity; in the last 
century, the great intellect of Pascal had been pro- 
foundly impressed by the so-called miracle of the holy 
thorn, and the inmates of Port Royal appealed to the 
cures worked by it as manifest proofs of God's favor 
towards their community. In 1730, the public was 
more skeptical than when the miracles of the thorn 
checked the persecutors of Port Royal, but at a 
time when the Jesuits were able to obtain the papal 
recognition of the visions of Marie Alacoque, it was 
not strange that many were ready to believe in the 
marvels performed at the cemetery of St. Mddard, 
the truth of which was loudly proclaimed by Jansenist 

The Deacon Paris was a man of wealth for those 


days, with an income of ten thousand livres a year ; he 
was the brother of a member of the Parliament, and 
was a prominent advocate of Jansenist doctrines. 
However erroneous his theology, no one could deny 
the sanctity of his life; he gave all that he had to 
the poor, slept without coverings, eschewed meat, and 
subsisted on vegetables. Worn out by such austeri- 
ties, in 1727, the deacon died in the odor of sanctity, 
and was buried in the little cemetery of St. Medard. 
There his remains rested quietly for a while, but ere- 
long rumors circulated of miraculous cures worked on 
those who sought relief at his grave. Soon the ceme- 
tery was visited by increasing throngs, and persons 
of all ranks were attracted to the place. The cures 
became more frequent and more extraordinary. A 
woman who had been an invalid from infancy, hardly 
able to walk by reason of her infirmities, and so often 
in grievous plight that she had been bled three hun- 
dred times, and had two hundred times received the 
last sacrament, made her neuvaine by the tomb of the 
saint. As she completed her ninth day of prayer, she 
found herself restored to full strength ; she returned 
home, and amazed her neighbors by running briskly 
up five flights of stairs to her apartment.^ The lame 
walked, the deaf heard, the paralyzed were restored 
to vigor, and this succession of marvelous cures be- 
came the chief theme of conversation in Paris. Not 
only could the saint heal the faithful, he showed also 
his ability to punish scoffers. A woman conceived 
the idea of making sport of his powers; pretending 
to be lame, she arrived at the cemetery, and in the 
presence of the crowd threw herself on the ground by 

1 Dissertations sur les miracles operes au tombeau de Monsieur 
de Paris. 


the tomb, as was the custom of those in search of 
relief. Her impiety was sood exposed, for presently 
she began to lament aloud, and ask God to pardon 
her wickedness; she was raised from the ground, and 
it was discovered that her mouth was twisted awry, 
and one side had become paralyzed; thereupon she 
confessed that her purpose had been to pretend a 
cure and then expose its falsity, and her sin had been 
punished by this grievous affliction. This act of 
righteous vengeance was vouched for by numerous 
witnesses, among them priests and members of Par- 
liament, and the house was not able to hold the crowd 
which rushed to see the unfortunate woman who had 
so rashly doubted the powers of the blessed deacon.^ 

Miracles worked by Jansenist remains found no 
favor with the ecclesiastical authorities; they were 
declared to be impostures, and the Archbishop of Paris 
forbade his parishioners to pay their devotions to an 
unauthenticated saint. Such prohibitions were of no 
avail ; the populace declared the miracle worker to be 
a saint without waiting for the canonization of the 
Pope, and portraits and lives of the Blessed Deacon 
Paris circulated in defiance of the authorities. 

The church of St. Medard stands in a remote 
part of Paris ; in bad weather the approach was diffi- 
cult, and as the faithful walked about the little ceme- 
tery, they often sunk in mud to their ankles. Not- 
withstanding such trials, the church was crowded from 
five in the morning until dark ; no storm discouraged 
the people, and they stood patiently in the rain, pray- 
ing to the saint and watching those who had come in 
search of cures. Those about the grave sang with 

1 Journal de Barbier, ii. 171 et seq., and numerous contempo- 
rary pamphlets. 


fervor, while the tomb itself was always covered by 
the sick and lame, prostrate upon it, and beseeching 
relief; when some one arose and declared himself re- 
stored to health, the multitude burst into a Te Deum, 
and the crowd followed the man who had been cured 
through the streets amid resounding cries of "Miracle, 

It was not only the vulgar who showed their ven- 
eration for the new saint; on one morning fifty car- 
riages were counted about the church, and the owners 
of them, among whom were two duchesses, were say- 
ing their prayers within. Even so great a person as 
the Princess of Conti, a kinswoman of the king, came 
to St. Medard in search of relief. She did not find 
it, but as she had been blind for years, and only 
visited the tomb in person on the first and last days 
of her neuvaine, leaving it to others to pray for her 
between times, either the severity of her affliction 
or the slackness of her devotion might explain the 

The Jansenists found comfort, not only in the 
miracles worked by one of their own number, but m 
the failure of their opponents to furnish a rival. 
The death of the Deacon Paris was followed by that 
of a priest equally renowned for asceticism and life- 
long piety, and who had been so bitter an opponent 
of Jansenism that he died without the sacrament, 
rather than receive it from the hands of one tainted 
with that heresy. But no miracles marked his grave ; 
a life of eighty years spent in the severest practices 
of religion did not secure for his remains the miracu- 
lous powers which the Almighty bestowed on the 
bones of the blessed deacon. 

The manifestations at the cemetery of St. Medard, 


as is wont to be the ease, increased in violence. 
Many who visited the tomb fell into convulsions ; they 
asked to be beaten and trod upon by the bystanders ; 
persons lay on the ground uttering wild cries and in- 
coherent prophecies; scenes were enacted that were 
disgusting and indecent. It was not so much the 
scandal of such performances, as their Jansenist 
origin, which at last led the government to interfere. 
In January, 1732, a royal ordinance declared that 
the cemetery of St. Medard should be closed, and all 
persons were forbidden to enter it.^ As the faith- 
ful approached the scene of their devotions on the 
29th of January, they found it surrounded by soldiers, 
who turned them away, and this guard was strictly 
maintained. On the following day, a famous para- 
phrase of the ordinance was attached to the door of 
the church. "By order of the king, God is forbidden 
to work miracles in this place." ^ The prohibition 
was respected : no more miracles were wrought in the 
cemetery of St. Mddard; the relics of the blessed 
deacon occasionally effected a cure, but the lame and 
the halt no longer came to be healed, and the excite- 
ment slowly abated. 3 

^ Ordinance of January 27, 1732. 

2 Barbier, ii. 246. 

^ Relations de la guerison de Marie Elisabeth Giroust. These 
alleged miracles and the excitement produced by them are de- 
scribed in many contemporary pamphlets. Barbier's journal 
contains full accounts of them, and his comments are a fair illus- 
tration of the views of intelligent Parisians. Barbier was nat- 
urally skeptical, and was inclined to question the cures, but he 
was not quite sure that they were imaginary. 



For some years Fleury succeeded in keeping France 
at peace, though it needed adroitness, good judgment, 
and a placid temper to avoid hostilities without sac- 
rifice of national prestige, amid the varying compli- 
cations of Continental politics. On February 1, 
1733, Augustus II., called the Strong, and more re- 
nowned for his gallantries than for his wisdom, died 
and left the throne of Poland vacant. In every other 
European kingdom the hereditary form of monarchy 
was firmly established, but Poland had not shared 
the political development of Europe ; her government, 
instead of growing in orderly efficiency, had reached 
a condition of administrative paralysis. Not only did 
the nobles elect their king, but they had stripped his 
office of power, and their order, in which all author- 
ity was vested, was unruly, lawless, and unfit either 
to govern or to be governed. Surrounded by states 
in which centralized forms of administration had 
made steady progress, Poland was not far removed 
from chronic anarchy, and her dismemberment might 
well have been anticipated long before it was accom- 
plished. Whatever our sympathy with a nationality 
that was torn asunder by unscrupulous neighbors, the 
condition of Poland was long such as to make this 
result possible and probable. 

In view of this, it is interesting to watch one of 
the last elections of a Polish sovereign, to see the 



operations of a government which was soon to perish 
from the commimity of nations. In 1704, Stanislaus 
Leszczynski, a Polish nobleman, had been chosen 
king of Poland. His election was due to the friendly 
influence of Charles XII., then at the height of his 
victorious career, and after the disaster of Pultowa, 
when the Russians espoused the interests of Augustus 
II., Stanislaus fled from his country, and for many 
years he was a wanderer. At last he found rest in 
the little city of Weissenburg ; the French furnished 
him shelter, and he led an obscure and tranquil life, 
devoted to his family, active in piety, and giving to 
the arts and sciences the attention which he had once 
bestowed on schemes of ambition. 

There seemed little probability that Stanislaus 
would be drawn from this tranquil retreat to become 
again a prominent figure in European politics, but 
for the second time a sudden change of fortune over- 
took him, and in 1725 his daughter was chosen to 
become the wife of Louis XV. While the French 
ministers were content with the daughter of a deposed 
king as the bride of their monarch, they had no wish 
to involve France in endeavors to increase the dignity 
of her family, and it was plainly stated in the nego- 
tiations for the marriage that Stanislaus must not 
expect France to aid him to regain his throne. A fu- 
gitive monarch was in no condition to dictate terms, 
and moreover Stanislaus had a placid and contented 
mind ; it is doubtful whether he preferred the stormy 
existence of a Polish king to the comfortable lot 
that was assured to the father-in-law of Louis XV. 
He was given the magnificent chateau of Chambord as 
a residence, and there for many years he enjoyed a 
tranquil splendor. When Augustus 11. died, the 


claims of Stanislaus were again advanced. The ex- 
sovereign was not strenuous in pressing them, and if 
his son-in-law had declined to assist him, Stanislaus 
would probably have been content to smoke his pipe 
and pursue his studies amid the beauties of Cham- 
bord. But the French minister at Warsaw at once 
began scheming for the election of Louis XV. 's 
father-in-law as king of Poland, and to these endeav- 
ors the French government, with much misgiving, 
promised its assistance.^ 

For almost two centuries France had furnished 
candidates for this office, though when we consider 
the remoteness of the country and the nominal au- 
thority of the sovereign, it is difficult to see wherein a 
French king of Poland could be a valuable ally. In 
1572, the Duke of Anjou was chosen to the office, 
and abandoned the dignity when he became Henry 
III. of France. In the next century various princes 
of Conde and of Conti aspired to the Polish throne, 
though the influence of France was not sufficient to 
secure the election of any of them. It was, there- 
fore, in accordance with traditional policy to seek 
now for the election of a sovereign who, if not French 
in race, was closely allied to the French king. 

So far as the Poles were concerned Stanislaus was 
an acceptable candidate ; he was Polish by blood and 
the member of an ancient and illustrious family ; he 
had once been their sovereign, and had been driven 
from the throne by foreign armies ; he was a man of 

1 The letters of Chauvelin in the early part of 1733, Ajf. Etr., 
Pologne, show he realized that even if Stanislaus was elected, 
it would be difficult for France to sustain him on the throne of 
a remote country. (Letters of May 22, July 7, etc.) These ap- 
prehensions became metre pronounced as the time for the elec- 
tion approached. 


amiable character and personally popular. None of 
these considerations, however, would have gone far 
towards securing his election. Poland had already 
reached the condition where her sovereign must be 
supported by some foreign state; the Polish nobles 
chose the king, but it was beyond their power to 
maintain him in his office. Stanislaus had been 
raised to the throne at the command of Charles XII., 
and had been deposed by the army of Peter the 
Great. Russian and Saxon armies were now gather- 
ing at the frontier. Austria and Prussia were inter- 
esting themselves in the choice of a new sovereign, 
and these powerful neighbors would not respect the 
selection made by the Poles unless it was acceptable 
to themselves. 

For another reason the personal qualities of the 
candidate were of little importance. The Polish no- 
bility was as corrupt as it was turbulent and unruly, 
and the election of a Polish king was a scene of more 
scandalous bribery than is witnessed in days of uni- 
versal suffrage. The liberty demanded by a Polish 
noble, it was said, was the liberty to sell his vote, 
and the French minister, an adroit man and well 
versed in Polish politics, informed his government 
that if it was desired to secure the election of Stanis- 
laus, money must be supplied with a liberal hand. 
"The election of Stanislaus," he writes, "can only 
be secured by money, which is the great incentive for 
everything in this country." And he declared that 
six or seven millions would be needed to insure the 
result.^ "Formerly," he said sadly, "one could buy 

1 Monti to king, February 26, 1733, Cor. de Pologne, Aff. Etr. 
All the details in reference to Stanislaus's election I have taken 
from the correspondence in the French foreign office, which has 


a Pole for a moderate sum, but this is no longer so." ^ 
In the ignoble intrigues which now began we find the 
bearers of the most illustrious names in Polish history 
engaged in trafficking for their votes, — the Ponia- 
towskis, the Raczynskis, the Potockis, the Ogin- 
skis. Some demanded offices ; a few scrupled to take 
money, said the minister, and would be pleased to 
receive jewels and watches of value, but the true 
Pole preferred specie. ^ Some admitted that it was 
shameful to sell their votes, but they pleaded that 
such was the custom, and that an election was their 
harvest time.^ The ambassador of the emperor was 
also at Warsaw, and there was great excitement in the 
capital when two wagons, attended by a strong guard, 
and loaded, it was said, with money to be used at 
the election, were driven to his residence.* Those 
who were willing to sell themselves once might be 
tempted to sell to both parties, and the French min- 
ister was instructed to be liberal in his promises, but 
so far as possible, to defer the time of payment until 
the votes had been cast.^ 

In such a contest as this the French were apt to be 
successful; their diplomatic agents were usually men 
of adroitness, energy, and experience, and France 
could furnish a large amount of ready money with 

not before, I think, been examined on this question. It gives 
much information as to the condition of the Polish nobility and 
of the Polish government at this time. 

1 Monti to king, February 1, 1733 ; to Chauvelin, April 11. 

2 Letters of Monti of April 11, May 29, July 8, etc., Cor. de 

^ Monti to king, March 1, 1733. " C'^tait I'asage et le tems 
de leur moisson." 

* Cor. de Pol, lib. 204-208, ;?as. 
6 76., 202, 136,iJas. 


more promptness than any other Continental country. 
Nearly eleven million livres were sent to the Marquis 
of Monti, more than half of the annual revenues of 
the kingdom of Prussia at this time, and the larger 
part of this great sum was used in purchasing the 
support of the Polish nobility for the candidacy of 
Stanislaus.^ It was not used in vain. Monti se- 
cured the influence of the most powerful members of 
the Polish aristocracy, and Stanislaus, who had been 
loath to leave Chambord until his election was as- 
sured, now traveled through Germany in disguise, 
and in September, 1733, arrived at Warsaw, where 
the Polish Diet had convened to elect a king. 

The spectacle presented by this assembly could be 
paralleled nowhere else in the world. In the great 
plains by the Vistula, sixty thousand Polish nobles 
were gathered, each of whom not only had the right to 
vote at the election of a sovereign and on all other 
questions of importance to the state, but by his single 
veto could check any action of his associates, and 
paralyze the republic ; they were arrayed in a mag- 
nificence which rivaled the splendors of the courtiers 
of Versailles, though their dress indicated the freer 
life to which they were accustomed, and their closer 
connection with the east than with the west of Europe ; 
they were proficient in all feats of arms, perfect in 
their skiU as horsemen, fierce in their impatience of 
control, proud of their independence, and strongly 
attached to the country which their lawlessness was 
ere long to bring to final overthrow. 

Amid all this chivalric splendor a regard for vulgar 
interest was by no means unknown; now that they 

1 See Mdra. of December, 1733 ; Car. de Pol, letters of Monti 
of June 1, 1734, etc. 


were on the eve of the election, the pressure on the 
French minister for material aid, in return for sup- 
port of his candidate, became constantly more severe. 
He was besieged by people asking for money; they 
followed him into his chamber to press their demands, 
and threatened to espouse the interest of the other 
party unless their pay was forthcoming. ^ But Monti 
had sufficient money and sufficient adroitness to keep 
his hold over this unruly multitude. 

It was whispered about that Stanislaus, their past 
and their future sovereign, had actually arrived at 
Warsaw, and, though as yet he was kept in seclusion, 
the knowledge of his presence encouraged his follow- 
ers. All was now ready for the election, and the 
manner in which this was conducted savored of the 
romantic picturesqueness which was always the charm, 
and often the weakness, of Polish institutions. The 
primate of Poland was the official charged with the 
duty of collecting the votes, and this great ecclesiastic 
was a cavalier bearing little resemblance to some 
plump bishop ambling about on his episcopal palfrey. 
Mounting his horse the Archbishop of Gnesen rode 
in hot haste from one palatinate to another, bidding 
them name their choice for sovereign of the republic. 
So great was the number that, though he was seven 
hours on horseback, he was unable to complete the 
rounds, but on the following day the task was accom- 
plished. He returned to a tent where the chief offi- 
cers were collected, and from which floated the great 
standard of the republic. This was soon surrounded 
by deputations from the palatinates, all mounted and 
demanding vociferously that a king should be named. 

1 Monti to king, September 9, 1733, Af. Etr., 208. " Jamais 
la cupidity n'a 4te port^e k la pointe qu'elle est," he writes. 


In response to these outcries the primate at last ap- 
peared, and asked those present if they would have 
Stanislaus for their king. They all replied yes. This 
question was thrice repeated, and upon the third reply 
the primate said, " It is as you will it, and I declare 
Stanislaus Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of 
Poland." This was greeted by a discharge of guns 
by the horsemen. No sooner had the proclamation 
been made than the new king appeared and showed 
himself to his followers. He had been careful to 
array himself in the national dress, and, followed by a 
great concourse, he proceeded to the cathedral, where 
the Te Deum was sung amid the booming of cannon. 
A small party was opposed to the choice, but no one 
ventured to proclaim the traditional veto which tech- 
nically would have defeated the election; those op- 
posed contented themselves with leaving the electoral 
field and riding off to join the Russian forces.^ 

Thus Stanislaus was elected to the Polish throne 
with the good will of a majority of the Polish people, 
but it was soon shown how unimportant was their 
choice and how powerless was the Polish government. 
The sixty thousand nobles, when they had satisfied their 
enthusiasm by firing guns and displaying their horse- 
manship, returned to their homes ; the king found no 
money in the treasury, and there were no means of 
raising any regular sums by taxation ; there was no 
army deserving the name ; an organized Polish army 
had not gathered together since John Sobieski led 
them to the rescue of Vienna. ^ 

^ A full account of the election, alike its formalities and its 
secret workings, is given by the French ambassador. Cor. de 
Pol, lib. 208, letters of September 12, 15, etc. 

2 Monti to king, December 24, 1733. 


On the other hand, the influence of Russia in 
Polish politics steadily increased, and as the govern- 
ment of Poland became more disorganized, it was the 
easier for a foreign power to deal with that country 
as a subject state. The Russians had gathered a 
considerable army to compel the election of a king 
who would be in their interest ; they now advanced 
rapidly upon Warsaw, and Stanislaus had absolutely 
no forces with which to oppose them. Ten days after 
his election he fled from Warsaw at midnight, and 
found refuge at Dantzic. The Russian army, thirty 
thousand strong, advanced to Warsaw without resist- 
ance. It was easy to find factions who would espouse 
any cause ; another election was held, and the Elector 
of Saxony, the candidate of Russia and of the em- 
peror, was declared king as Augustus III. He was 
supported by foreign troops, and was obliged to ask 
no aid from his Polish followers, nor did he meet 
with any opposition from those who had advocated the 
election of Stanislaus. In January he was peaceably 
consecrated at Cracow as king of Poland. 

In the mean time Stanislaus remained at Dantzic, 
imploring the French to come to his aid. The French 
ministers had foreseen difficulties in supporting their 
candidate, but they were somewhat surprised when 
they realized the entire absence of any organized gov- 
ernment in this ill-fated kingdom. Their representa- 
tive wrote that if the French could send an army, it 
was possible that the Poles would rally about it, but 
without foreign aid nothing could be expected from 
Poland. "I am sorry we did not know long ago," 
Chauvelin replied, "that we must count the Poles 
absolutely for nothing, and must ourselves take the 
whole burden of the war."^ Such was, however, 
1 Chauvelin to Monti, January 13, 1734. 


precisely the case. It was impossible for the French 
to send to a country a thousand miles distant an army 
that could successfully oppose the forces of Russia, 
Austria, and Saxony. Louis announced that he should 
regard an invasion of Poland as an act of hostility 
against France; his remonstrance was unheeded; the 
allied armies continued their advance, and war was 
declared forthwith. This was of little service to the 
luifortunate Stanislaus, who remained in Dantzic, 
very infirm in body and very low in mind, finding for 
the second time how perilous an honor it was to be 
the king of Poland. 

In the spring of 1734, the Russian army advanced 
to Dantzic and laid siege to the place. The citizens 
were friendly to Stanislaus, but they had no desire to 
endure a bombardment when it was certain that the 
city could not long resist without foreign aid. It was 
soon plain that no sufficient assistance would be fur- 
nished. The French tried to obtain an army from 
Sweden, but the endeavor was not successful. Fred- 
erick William of Prussia was appealed to, but his in- 
terests were with the other side ; he offered to furnish 
a retreat in case of need upon his usual terms, that 
he should be given a certain number of taU soldiers, 
but he was not inclined to expose his giants to the 
danger of being shot.^ At last the French sent a 
small reinforcement of about fifteen hundred men 
with a few ships; they arrived at the mouth of the 
Vistula, but were unable to reach Dantzic. A Rus- 
sian fleet of twelve sail presently made its appearance 
on the Baltic, and the French contingent was forced 
to surrender. 

Thus Stanislaus was left entirely helpless. Of sixty 
1 Monti to king, November 12, 1733. 


thousand nobles who had gathered on the electoral 
field, there were few who came to the assistance of the 
sovereign they had chosen. Indeed, it was almost im- 
possible that they should ; there was no organization 
for an army, no money with which to pay troops or 
purchase provisions. "We have," said the French 
minister, "neither powder, nor ball, nor troops, nor 
generals;" and a little later he wrote with a just 
though a tardy recognition of the actual condition of 
things, "This tragedy will soon be finished."^ 

Though the Russians did not press the siege of 
Dantzic with much vigor, the condition of the town 
soon became desperate ; bombs were constantly falling 
in the streets, the country about was laid waste, and 
the citizens were unwilling to expose themselves to 
entire ruin in a hopeless cause. Stanislaus was a 
humane man, and was loath to involve his followers 
in further disaster, but it was now difficult to make 
his escape, and he was justly apprehensive of the fate 
which might await him if he fell into the hands of 
the Russian troops. He resolved, however, to make 
an attempt at flight, and to seek a refuge in more 
orderly lands. Various offers of assistance were made 
him by a people always ready for acts of daring. 
One lady, he says, like a true heroine, even offered 
to take him away as her husband, but he declined to 
involve both her and himself in the perils of such an 
expedition, and a little before midnight on the 27th 
of June, 1734, he made his escape from Dantzic in 
the disguise of a peasant. The country around was 
flooded, and Russian parties were patrolling it as best 
they could, on the lookout for the fugitive, and 
arresting and examining every peasant whose height 
1 Monti to Chauvelin, April 7, 1734. 


and appearance corresponded to that of the king. 
For ten days Stanislaus wandered over the marshes, 
environed by dangers and with Russian camps ahnost 
constantly in view. Sometimes he and his party 
made their way in boats, and again they had to walk 
through mud, sinking in it to their knees. He lay 
for some hours concealed in the garret of a peasant's 
house, listening to the talk of a party of Cossacks 
who had taken possession of the rooms below. At 
another time, as he chanced to look for a minute 
from the window, he saw some Russians guarding 
their horses not twenty paces away. The men who 
undertook to assist his escape were rascals of the 
most pronounced type, and the only comfort the fugi- 
tive found was in the society of a bankrupt merchant 
who was also engaged in making his way from Po- 
land. His followers were alarmed at the dangers 
in which they were involved and afraid of the ven- 
geance of the Russians, and his only resource, he 
writes, was in the brandy with which he was sup- 
plied : when he furnished it sparingly to his attend- 
ants, they saw in advance perils which they refused 
to encounter; but when it was handed around with 
sufficient liberality, they were ready to lead him right 
through the Russian camps. After many trials the 
party at last got over the Vistula, and, by professing 
to be a butcher in search of cattle and making liberal 
agreements to purchase of the farmers, Stanislaus 
succeeded in inducing them to transport him across 
the Prussian frontier.^ There he was in safety, but 
any chance of wearing the Polish crown was forfeited 
by his flight from the country ; the war which nomi- 

^ An account of Stanislaus's escape from Dantzic, written by 
himself, is found in Cor. de Pol., Aff. Etr. 


nally began to make Stanislaus king of Poland was 
continued with a different purpose. 

Louis XV. had declared that he would protect 
Poland in her rights ; the election of Stanislaus was 
naturally recognized by France as the lawful choice 
of the Polish people, and when the Russian armies, 
acting in harmony with the emperor, invaded Poland 
and chased the king from his capital, the French were 
forced to regard this as a cause for war, or abandon 
the position they had taken. No one thought of 
doing the latter. Chauvelin, the minister for foreign 
affairs, was an ambitious man, and full of plans for 
remodeling Europe ; the nobility were to a large ex- 
tent officers in the army, and always in favor of a 
war policy, and Louis was anxious to secure a king- 
dom for his father-in-law. Fleury indeed, now as 
always, viewed war with apprehension, and wished to 
gain for his administration the mild fame of a period 
of tranquil prosperity, but he was not the man to 

I stem any strong current of popular feeling. 

/^ On the 10th of October, 1733, a solemn proclama- 
tion stated the wrongs perpetrated by the emperor in 
interfering with the liberties of the Polish people and 
affronting the French king their protector, and war 
was declared upon Austria. A French army at once 
crossed the Rhine, but the only important military 
operations were in Italy. No sooner was it apparent 
that hostilities with Austria were inevitable than the 
French endeavored to obtain Sardinia as an ally 
against that power. Charles Emmanuel III. was 
now king of Sardinia, a prince who in courage, in 
acuteness of intellect, in a judicious ambition, and in 
entire indifference as to the means by which he ad- 
vanced it, resembled a long line of illustrious ances- 


tors. His father, Victor Amadeus II., had shown 
himself the equal in ability of any European sover- 
eign ; by wisely choosing when to e ^use and when 
to discard the alliances offered hi^'^piie had succeeded 
in shaking off the tutelage in which Louis XIV. 
sought to hold him ; he had added largely to his pos- 
sessions ; he had ceased to be merely a Duke of Savoy, 
and had received the more sounding title of King of 
Sardinia. In 1730, Victor had reigned for fifty-eight 
years, and whether he was weary of the burdens of 
state, or wished to marry a lady, whom for lack of 
sufficient rank it would have been unseemly to declare 
a queen, in September of that year he amazed his 
subjects by abdicating the throne in favor of his son 
Charles Emmanuel. His retirement was attributed 
by some to a desire to live in acknowledged wedlock 
with his new wife; except for this consideration, 
wrote the French minister, the king's conduct would 
have been nothing less than heroic.^ Others said 
that Victor had promised support to both Spain and 
the emperor in their Italian quarrels, and a dread 
of complications led him to abdicate; but the king 
of Sardinia had betrayed both sides all his life, and 
was not apt to be dismayed at the results of any 
double dealing at that late day. At all events, he 
retired to the chateau of Chambery; there, he said, 
with his wife, a valet de chambre, two cooks, and a 
moderate income, he would lead a happy life as a 
country gentleman.^ 

If such was ever his purpose, within a year he 
changed his mind. It had been hinted that when he 

1 Blondel to Chauvelin, September 4, 1730, Cor. de Turiuy 

2 Conversation with Blondel, reported by him, Cor. de Turin. 


abdicated in favor of Charles Emmanuel, he pru- 
dently obtai from his son a promise to vacate the 
throne should -h, father again wish to fill it. If 
Charles had mau^h^'i such promise, he did not feel 
more bound by a x aily agreement than his father 
had been by covenants with foreign powers. In the 
autumn of 1731, the old king showed a desire to re- 
sume his former position; he held conferences with 
his son's ministers, who had formerly been his own; 
he complained of his son's ignorance of the art of 
government, and manifested a strong desire to get 
possession of the abdication which he had signed. 
Charles had announced to the world that his father 
had renounced greatness in order to devote his re- 
maining years wholly to God, and he did not intend 
to have this statement falsified. A detachment of 
soldiers proceeded by night to the chateau where the 
ex -king was; they forced their entrance, found him 
in bed, and presented an order for his arrest ; he re- 
fused to obey, and his wife threw her arms about him 
to protect him from his enemies. This exhibition of 
matrimonial devotion was without avail; some grena- 
diers seized the wife and bore her off, lightly clad, 
but struggling vigorously; the officers dressed the 
king, put him in a carriage, and he was carried under 
a strong guard to the castle of Kivoli. The son ex- 
pressed fears lest his father in some fit of excitement 
should commit violence on himseK, and to ward off 
such dangers he had him kept in a room with heavily 
grated windows, and under the surveillance of guards 
who never allowed him out of sight. 

The respect for monarchs was strong in Europe; 
they were still hedged about by a certain sanctity, and 
the announcement that the old king of Sardinia, the 


grandfather of Louis XV., had been arrested by his 
son and was kept in close confinement bade fair to 
excite international complications. The French felt 
that they could not allow such conduct to pass unno- 
ticed, but to their demands for explanation, as to all 
similar requests, Charles Emmanuel replied that he 
had been reluctantly driven to this step by the unfor- 
tunate mental hallucinations of his father and by the 
danger of public disturbance. No foreign nation felt 
sufficient interest to interfere, and Victor Amadeus 
remained a prisoner in close confinement in the castle 
of Rivoli until his death. ^ 

If, Charles Emmanuel was not a dutiful son, he 
was a good politician, and when the French applied 
for his aid against the emperor, he decided that the 
interest of Sardinia lay in espousing their cause; 
from them he could certainly obtain liberal promises 
of reward, for, as the sagacious rulers of his house 
had long discovered, Milan was most freely offered by 
those to whom it did not belong; even if the payment 
did not equal the promise, it was apt to be more than 
Austria would surrender from her patrimony in return 
for his aid. 

There were many difficulties in agreeing on the 
terms of a treaty, and these arose, not from what 
France wanted for herself, but for her proteges. At 
first the French did indeed ask the cession of Savoy 

1 " Et ce Victor, attrap^, tour i. tour, 

Par son orgeuil, par son fils, par Tamour," 

wrote Voltaire. The account of his abdication and sxibsequent 
conduct is taken from the letters found in the Correspondance 
de Turin, 1730, 1731, Aff. Etr. Also a memoir found in Mem. 
et Doc. Sardaigne, Aff. Etr., written by a former minister from 
Sardinia to England. The writer, though well informed, en- 
deavored to justify in all respects his present master. 


as compensation for their services in winning new 
territories for the king of Sardinia, and if they had 
been willing to give him all that he asked in Lom- 
bardy, it is not improbable that he would have made 
the bargain.^ But the French were forced to with- 
draw their claim for Savoy because they were so 
persistent in their demands for the infante ; on this 
occasion, as during innumerable diplomatic contro- 
versies in the century, the interests of France were 
sacrificed to obtain something for the Bourbon princes 
of Spain. 

The demands now made were exceedingly distaste- 
ful to the king of Sardinia. It was one of the unfor- 
tunate results of the Spanish alliance that not only 
was Spain too infirm to be of much assistance, but 
by espousing her interests France excited the ani- 
mosity of allies who would have been of more value; 
the establishment of the Spanish Bourbons in Italy 
alienated the House of Savoy ; by allying herself with 
a weak and decaying monarchy, France aroused the 
ill will of an active and growing state. The efforts 
of Elizabeth Farnese to obtain Parma for her son 
had not been looked on by Savoy with a friendly 
eye, but in 1731, Don Carlos at last took possession 
of the provinces secured for him. Though the old 
Victor was kept in rigorous captivity, he had lost 
none of his interest in the national development which 
his sagacious policy had done so much to further, and 
he regarded the establishment of the infante as a 
menace to the future growth of Savoy. "If my 
plans had been followed," said the old man, "Don 

1 Vaulgrenant to Chauvelin, May 23, 1733, and Cor. de Turiiiy 


Carlos would never have set foot on Italian soil with- 
out bloodshed."^ 

It was one of the schemes of Chauvelin, as later it 
was one of the dreams of Argenson, that the Aus- 
trian s should be driven out of Italy, and that country 
no longer be ruled by some foreign state, but by 
princes who would dwell among their people. The 
House of Savoy was quite willing that Italy should 
be freed from foreign rule, but if Austria was to be 
dispossessed, it was that Sardinia should take her 
place; it was no part of the aspiring policy of the 
rulers of Piedmont to expel the Austrians in order to 
replace them with Bourbon princes, who, with France 
for a protector, might prove far more uncomfortable 
neighbors. It was, therefore, with a bad grace that 
Charles Emmanuel heard the French demand a share 
of the Austrian possessions for the Spanish princes, 
and he refused absolutely to relinquish in their favor 
his own ambitions in Northern Italy. If the Spanish 
must have something, he preferred to let Spain herself 
take Naples and Sicily; he knew the weakness of 
that government, and he was sure that possessions 
held by so infirm a power would not prove a serious 
hindrance to the development of Sardinia. 

It was to no avail that he made such suggestions; 
it was not for Spain that Elizabeth Farnese intended 
the Spanish sol4iers should go to war; the French 
said plainly that only by the offer of advantages to 
the queen's children could aid be obtained from the 
country which was nominally ruled by Philip V.^ 
It was with reluctance that Charles Emmanuel at 

1 Car. de Turin, 164, 24, letter of May 26, 1732. 

2 This question is much discussed in the correspondence of 
Fleury and Charles Emmanuel, Cor. de TuriUf 160. See, also, 
letters of Chauvelin for 1733, Aff. Etr. 


last consented that France might conquer Naples 
and Sicily and the Tuscan ports, and give them to 
Don Carlos, for whom French influence and his 
mother's exertions had already secured the duchies of 
Parma and Piacenza. As a compensation for giving 
away what did not belong to him, Charles received 
the promise for himself of the whole of the great 
duchy of Milan, the aid of forty thousand French 
troops, and a liberal subsidy. In September, 1733, 
the treaty of Turin was signed. All that the French 
obtained by it was the permission to conquer some 
additional territory for Louis XV. 's cousin. ^ 

If Charles was unwilling to see the children of the 
Spanish queen established in Italy, she was still more 
irritated that any of the possessions of Austria should 
be given to Savoy. She regarded them aU as the 
future patrimony of her own offspring, and, unlike 
her sagacious rival, she would not accept the actual 
situation and wait for time to furnish new opportuni- 
ties. Fleury had long been regarded with aversion 
at the court of Madrid because he would not involve 
France in war in support of the claims of Don Carlos, 
and though the prospect of obtaining Sicily and 
Naples was welcome, yet Elizabeth would not agree 
that Milan should go to the king of Sardinia. 

It was true, indeed, that the duchy of Milan be- 
longed to Austria, and it was easier to say who should 
have it than to take it from its present owner, and it 
was equally true that it would be a most formidable 
undertaking to attempt conquests in Italy against the 
opposition of both Austria and Savoy. These reflec- 

1 The treaty of Turin is found in Cor. de Turin, 160, 166-180. 
Some slight exceptions from the Milanese are not important. 
Savoy was to have the duchy as it was granted to Philip II. 


tions did not affect Elizabeth's views; she had that 
absohite confidence in the accomplishment of her pur- 
poses which is often found in those whose desires are 
strong. The establishment of her sons as riders over 
most of Italy was the object of her life; for this end 
she knew she could command whatever resources 
Spain had, and she strenuously demanded the aid of 
France as a duty that country owed to the uncle of 
her king. 

The relations between France and Spain have been 
much discussed, and such weight has been attached to 
the famous series of family compacts, alike by states- 
men and by political writers, that it may be well to 
consider them and their results. Bourbon princes on 
the Spanish throne, it has been asserted in this cen- 
tury quite as stoutly as in the last, were a tower of 
strength to France, and therefore a menace to Eu- 
rope; those who are willing to study the facts may 
decide that France would have been better off if no 
Bourbon had ever ruled at Madrid. 

In the later years of Louis XIV. 's life, to place 
one of his descendants on the Spanish throne was the 
chief object of his ambition. Such was not the policy 
of the early part of his reign. During thirty years 
the king pursued with more or less of wisdom and 
success the course marked out by Richelieu and Maz- 
arin; he did not seek to make remote conquests, 
nor to place his family on foreign thrones : he sought 
acquisitions for France that would enhance the diffi- 
culties of foreign invasion, and that could be amalga- 
mated into a powerful and homogeneous nationality. 
These had been the traditions of French national 
growth, of which the French monarchy had long been 
the faithful exponent, and with such a policy France 


had expanded until the duchy of Hugh Capet had 
become the most powerful kingdom in Europe. 

The increase in monarchical authority, which had 
in many regards been advantageous to the develop- 
ment of France, came in time to hinder instead of 
foster the national growth. The king had been the 
visible embodiment of the conception of national 
unity, and it was necessary that he should be freed 
from the harassing interference of nobles whose aims 
were personal or local; a king was not in condition 
to add Alsace or Franche-Comte to France when his 
attention was absorbed in enforcing order in Brittany 
or reducing Guienne to obedience. But the concep- 
tion of the king as a national leader changed in time 
to that of a monarch ruling by divine right, a supe- 
rior being, for whose glory or pleasure his subjects 
were bound to sacrifice their fortunes and their lives. 
It was a natural result of this new theory that royal 
ambitions should tend to become dynastic rather than 
national, and that advantages to be gained by the 
nation of which the king was ruler should sometimes 
be forgotten in an endeavor to increase the splendor 
of the family of which he was head. 

During the course of the seventeenth century there 
were frequent alliances between the reigning families 
of France and Spain. In 1615, Louis XIII. married 
Anne of Austria, the daughter of Philip III. of 
Spain, and at the same time his sister was married 
to the prince of the Asturias, the future Philip IV. 
Such ties were drawn still closer in the next genera- 
tion; in 1660, Louis XIV. married his cousin Maria 
Theresa, the daughter of Philip IV. , and a few years 
later Charles II., the son of Philip IV., married a 
niece of Louis XIV., the beautiful Louise d' Orleans. 


How numerous were the ties between the rulers of the 
two countries at this period is shown by the varied 
relationships of Charles II. to Louis XIV. : he was 
his cousin, his brother-in-law, and his nephew by- 

These alliances illustrate of how little importance 
to nations are the ties of kith and kin among their 
rulers. Eighty-five years passed from the first double 
marriage between the houses of Spain and France to 
the death of Charles II., and during more than forty 
years of that time France and Spain were at war with 
each other; the ties of relationship, no matter how 
intricate, did not insure peace and amity. In the 
eighteenth century Spain proved a costly ally, but in 
the seventeenth century she was a very profitable 
opponent; it was more advantageous for France to 
despoil her as an enemy than to assist her as a friend ; 
as a result of the various wars against Spain in that 
century, France obtained the cession of the great 
provinces of Franche-Comte, Artois, and Roussillon, 
and a large part of the Spanish lowlands, territories 
which now contain almost one tenth of the population 
of the French Republic. 

The marriage of Louis XIV. with Maria Theresa 
was the most important, in its results, of the numerous 
alliances between French and Spanish monarchs. 
When the marriage was arranged, it seemed not im- 
probable that Maria would ultimately become heiress 
to the Spanish throne. She was therefore required 
to renounce her rights, but it was easy to argue that 
the renunciation was invalid, and it was certain that 
no instrument, whether more or less valid when in- 
voked in courts of law, would be allowed to control 
ambitious sovereigns or settle the fate of nations. 



Louis XIV. always asserted his wife's right as a pre- 
text for his wars with Spain, and by virtue of them, 
when supported by superior armies, he obtained from 
his father-in-law and his brother-in-law Franche- 
Comte and much of the Netherlands. 

When it became apparent that Charles II. would 
die childless and the great question of the Spanish 
succession would be opened, Louis agreed to waive 
the claims of his offspring in consideration of Lor- 
raine and Guipuzcoa and some of the Italian posses- 
sions of Spain, and therein he acted for the true 
interests of France. But Charles was induced by 
his counselors to nominate Louis's grandson as his 
successor, and in an evil day for his own fame and for 
the interests of his kingdom, the French king decided 
to accept the perilous legacy ; he sacrificed the inter- 
ests of his kingdom to the aggrandizement of his 
family. Philip V. had not much more French blood 
in his veins than Philip IV. ; when he left France he 
was a youth of seventeen, and a very dull and imma- 
ture youth besides. Yet the accession of a Bourbon 
prince to the throne of Spain was regarded as a men- 
ace to the liberties of Europe, and a long war fol- 
lowed in the effort to prevent it. The disasters which 
that war brought upon France are well known, but 
it resulted in the establishment of the Bourbon line 
in Spain, and during all of the eighteenth century 
that country was ruled by descendants of Louis 
XIV. A study of the relations between France and 
Spain during that period tends to show that the sacri- 
fices made by the French for the aggrandizement of 
the Bourbon family brought them no compensating 
advantages, and that France gained neither in power, 
nor trade, nor prosperity as a compensation for the 


thirteen years of war that were required to place the 
grandson of Louis XIV. on the Spanish throne. 

On the contrary, the establishment of the Bourbons 
in Spain seems rather to mark the period when the 
monarchy ceased to exert a beneficial influence upon 
the growth and development of France. Whether 
France had reached her natural limits, or whether 
her rulers were no longer fitted to carry on the work 
in which they had so long and so successfully been 
engaged, the eighteenth century, down to the time of 
the overthrow of the old regime, witnessed a decline 
in her political influence. In the sixteenth and still 
more in the seventeenth century the power of France 
had steadily grown; her territory had steadily in- 
creased in extent ; during all the numerous wars in 
which she was engaged in the seventeenth century 
there was not one which terminated disastrously ; there 
was hardly an important battle in which the French 
armies suffered a decisive defeat. Very different was 
the record of the following century. Lorraine was the 
only important acquisition which France made, and 
curiously enough, this was secured because Fleury 
saw fit to abandon the Spanish alliance and bargain 
for advantages for his own country instead of those 
which Louis had promised to get for Spain. In the 
war of the Austrian Succession the French armies 
won some brilliant victories, but any benefits that 
migrht have been derived from them were sacrificed 
to obtain an establishment for the Spanish infante. 
The Seven Years' war was among the most disastrous 
in the history of France ; she secured the aid of Spain 
in the contest, and it added to her misfortunes; the 
only fruit of the "family compact" was the loss of 


It is manifest, therefore, that a close alliance with 
Spain did not prove profitable to France, and a study 
of the various compacts between the rulers of the two 
countries will show that their object was usually the 
aggrandizement of Spanish princes in whose veins 
flowed Bourbon blood; that for this France furnished 
the means, and from it she reaped no benefit. 

While the Duke of Orleans was regent, the two 
nations were not on intimate nor even on friendly 
terms, and within three years after the remains of 
Louis XIV. were deposited at St. Denis, the coun- 
tries, which he believed the Pyrenees would no longer 
divide, were at war with each other. For many years 
the relations between France and Spain were as in- 
harmonious as between any two European countries. 
This situation at last changed, and the long political 
friendship which followed was in no inconsiderable 
degree due to Louis XV. Inert as he was by nature, 
yet at times the king's influence on French politics 
was considerable ; if he felt little concern in the pros- 
perity of his kingdom, family feelings with him were 
strong : he had an exalted conception of the greatness 
of the Bourbons, and displayed a lively interest in 
the advancement of his kinsfolk. 

The political principles which governed Spain dur- 
ing the time of the various family compacts, if not 
always wise, were entirely consistent. The Spanish 
showed as much willingness to treat with Austria, or 
England, or any other European power, as with 
France ; they sought the ally which would offer them 
most.i The history of Spanish diplomacy showed 

^ " Unless France gives us aid," wrote the Spanish minister 
when a new establishment was wanted for Don Philip in 1743, 
" the king of Spain, abandoned by his friends, will throw him- 



how vain were the apprehensions of those who feared 
that the ties of domestic affection between rulers 
woidd make Spain eager to expend her energies as 
a humble auxiliary of France. "We can obtain no- 
thing from Spain through reason, or gratitude, or 
ties of blood," wrote a French statesman who had 
much to do with the negotiations between the two 

f/' The first family compact of 1733, which was fol- 
)wed by others of a similar nature, was entered into 
ecause Louis XV. was willing to agree on terms 
which the Spanish could obtain from no other sover- 

Ieign; he made the interests of the Spanish princes 
his own ; he promised to conquer for them kingdoms 
and principalities, and naturally the proffered help 
j was eagerly accepted ; but France gained nothing by 
I imposing upon herself new and onerous obligations. 
The Spanish princes were regarded by the French 
kings as younger sons who must be provided for; as 
IS often the case, their establislunent in life proved 
a heavy burden upon the paternal estate. 

The disadvantages of the Spanish alliance were 
justly estimated by Fleury, as that sagacious states- 
man reached the end of his long tenure of office. 
"There is nothing," he wrote, "that the queen of 
Spain would not sacrifice for the elevation of the 
Infante Don Philip. Reason and a sense of what is 
possible do not influence her views; passion alone 
controls them." "The greatest obstacles that we 

self in the arms of his enemies." If France, he added, delayed 
in furnishing the succor promised, Spain must go elsewhere to 
find it. Mdm. 1743, AJf. Etr. 

1 Mem. for office, Chauvelin, 1735, Cor. d'Esp.y Aff. Etr.y 428, 


find in our projects," he writes again, "come from the 
court of Madrid." "We must acknowledge that this 
additional crown for the House of Bourbon has done 
us far more harm than good." ^ The old statesman 
showed his usual sagacity when he declared that a 
Bourbon prince on the Spanish throne was a misfor- 
tune for France ; that it would have been better for 
that country had the great alliance formed by Wil- 
liam III. succeeded in preventing the grandson of 
Louis XIV. from ruling in Spain. 

Years later, even Choiseul recognized the futility of 
the attempts to obtain any advantage from the Bour- 
bon dynasty in Spain. "It is astonishing," he wrote, 
"that for sixty years Spain has been ruled by princes 
of the House of France, and yet it has never been 
possible to form a solid alliance between the two 

The French did not even receive commercial advan- 
tages as compensation for the aid they rendered their 
ally; they never obtained any greater privileges than 
were granted other friendly powers, and they did not 
always enjoy those. On the whole, the English pro- 
fited most by the commerce with the Spanish colonies ; 
they paid little heed to many of the prohibitions by 
which Spain sought to monopolize this trade for her- 
self, while the French were more scrupulous about 
exciting complaints. Spain was treated by the gov- 
ernment as an ally that must not be offended; if 
French traders suffered from the high-handed acts of 
Spanish officials, they got no redress ; no tales about 
Jenkins's ears were allowed to appear and excite the 

^ Fleury to Tencin, December 5, 1741 ; April 24 and May 9, 

2 C(yr. d'Espagne, 532, 91 : 1761. 



public mind against Bourbon princes. As for trade 
with Spain itself, from this all foreigners were ex- 
cluded so far as possible, and French manufacturers 
were regarded with even more jealousy than those of 
England.^ Spain has always been the most severe of 
the great European states in its protective policy; the 
rigor of commercial prohibition under Philip II. was 
not relaxed under Philip V. ; even to-day Spain is a 
strict adherent of the protective doctrines which have 
been adopted in that country from time immemorial, 
though they have not yet developed home industries 
nor brought to the land wealth and prosperity. 

Jealousy of French competition was shown in other 
ways than by prohibiting the importation of French 
wares and checking their trade with Mexico and 
Peru. Louisiana was regarded as a possible rival 
by the Spanish colonies, and so rigorous were the 
prohibitions against any dealings with it, that a ship 
from Louisiana could not anchor at Cuba, even in 
case of distress. As late as 1760, a French vessel 
stopped at Havana, and landed its captain, who was 
seriously ill. The governor ordered that he should 
at once be taken on board and the ship should set 
sail; he was told that the man's life was in peril, but 
he replied that the orders of the Spanish king were 
that no French ship coming from Louisiana could 
anchor at Havana, or receive succor from Cuba, no 
matter what the stress or need.^ Even before Lou- 

^ "L'id^e du gouvernement Espagnol est de se passer des 
strangers," Cor. d'Esp., 428, 225, and to this idea it has al- 
ways remained true. 

2 An account of this matter is found in a memoir of 1761 
in the Archives des Affaires Etrangeres. The volumes of the Cor. 
d*Espagne are filled with the grievances of French merchants 
who suffered from the rigor of Spanish commercial regulations, 


isiana was given to Spain as a compensation for the 
loss of Florida, Choiseul said it might be well to cede 
it to her in order to avoid the constant offense which 
the colony gave Spanish susceptibilities. ^ 

During the time that Louis XIV. 's grandson was 
king of Spain, the desires and purposes of his wife 
are all that it is important to consider ; nominally it 
was Philip V., a Bourbon prince, a Frenchman by 
birth, who administered the affairs of the country, 
but it is regarding form and not substance to say that 
he controlled Spanish policy, or that it was a Bour- 
bon who ruled in Spain. During the last thirty 
years of Philip's reign, the absolute ruler of Spain, 
the person whose desires were law, who decided all 
questions of war and peace, who said in what cause 
armies should fight and with what states alliances 
should be made, was Elizabeth Farnese, by birth an 
Italian princess. 

If France had given queens to Spain instead of 
kings, the hope might have been realized that the 
Pyrenees would no longer exist. Philip V. was weak 
as a youth, and was little more than an imbecile in 
maturity. His mental condition was not always the 
same; when his health was comparatively good, he 
was able to perform the routine duties required of 
a sovereign; he could receive ambassadors and hold 
levees, and, though his judgment was controlled by 
others, he could express himself with dignity and 
propriety. But he was often sunk far below the 
heavy dullness which was his best estate. His con- 
duct then became so extraordinary that it can only be 

and upon this official correspondence I have based what I have 
said about the trade between France and Spain. 
1 Choiseul to Orsun, July 31, 1761. 


accounted for by a certain degree of mental aliena- 
tion. He turned night into day ; he breakfasted near 
midnight, and supped towards morning, and his meals 
were sometimes so prolonged that he would sit for 
nine or ten hours at the table ; often he would remain 
for days in bed, refusing to have any intercourse with 
his ministers, and having for his only associate an 
ignorant domestic ; and as he was jealous of any as- 
sumption of authority, without at least the form of his 
consent, the government at such times was almost 
paralyzed. The king sank into a condition hardly 
above that of an animal: he would not have his hair 
or his nails cut ; he refused to change his linen, and 
wore one shirt for two months, until it became as 
black as a chimney ; he refused to talk, and occasion- 
ally, through long interviews, would keep his fingers 
in his mouth to avoid any danger of breaking into 
speech. The queen said that he harbored the delusion 
that he was dead, and this accounted for his obsti- 
nate silence. As he ate enormously, and took little 
exercise, he grew very unwieldy, and it was with diffi- 
culty that he could walk, when he made the attempt. 
In fact, the condition of Philip V. was often not 
far removed from that of his uncle Charles II. ; he 
inherited the diseased blood of the Spanish monarchs, 
and his natural defects were increased by the narrow 
prejudices and the benumbing etiquette by which a 
king of Spain was necessarily surrounded. Philip 
was superstitious, he was uxorious, he was greedy 
and overloaded his stomach with food, and what 
little intelligence he ever had was darkened and ob- 
scured. ^ 

^ This account of Philip's character and conduct is based upon 
the statements of those who saw him constantly, and were bound 


If the condition of the monarch was bad, that of 
his kingdom was not much better ; internal commerce 
and manufactures were at a low ebb ; the trade with 
her extensive colonies might have been important, 
but from lack of capital and of business enterprise 
it was largely done through foreigners, and an unin- 
telligent spirit of monopoly destroyed the benefits 
which could have been derived from it. It was in 
vain, said a well-informed observer, that the govern- 
ment sought to become rich without allowing its sub- 
jects a chance for profit, and Spanish trade, as it was 
conducted, was only a combination of privilege and 

Nor was Spain any better equipped for war than 
could be expected in a country so far in arrears ; the 
effective troops were not one quarter of the number 
shown on paper, and they were poorly paid and 
poorly disciplined. The navy was but a scarecrow; 
some of the sailors were beardless boys, others were 
the leavings of the jail or the products of the press- 
to describe correctly what they saw. (Cor. d'Espagne, 370, 346 ; 
371, 6 ; 372, 64, 183 ; 390, 351 ; 395, 79, 189, etc.) Similar ac- 
counts of his condition are found in the reports of all the French 
ambassadors at Madrid, during a space of twenty years ; and 
also in letters from many Spaniards in the correspondence of 
the Austrian ambassadors, and in the Dispacci Veneziani of the 
well-informed Venetian ambassadors. 

1 These statements as to the condition of Spain are taken 
from numerous memoirs of various dates in the Archives des 
Affaires Etrangeres, and they are confirmed from many other 
sources. The condition of Spain under Philip V. showed some 
improvement as compared with the time of Charles II., but it 
was still very bad. Under Charles III., the improvement was 
considerable, and far more substantial than the boasted progress 
made during the administration of Alberoni. 


ig. "Their navy will be only a breakfast for the 
English," said a true prophet.^ 

This strange government was controlled by an Ital- 
ian woman, who cared little for Spain and less for 
France ; to arrive at their ends, the French minister 
lamented, their Catholic majesties would exhaust the 
treasures of France with the utmost indifference. ^ 
Notwithstanding this, there was a strong feeling that 
an intimate union should exist between the two 
branches of the Bourbon family ; it had been a prin- 
ciple of Louis XIV. 's reign that such was the true 
French policy, and the traditions of the great mon- 
arch still exercised a large influence upon the French 
mind. Fleury had not been inclined to lend the 
strength of France to further the aspirations of the 
Spanish queen, but Chauvelin was now minister of 
foreign affairs, a man of ability, and filled with am- 
bitious projects. As war with Austria became proba- 
ble, the two courts were naturally drawn more closely 
together. Philip had a chronic desire for fighting, 
and this was encouraged by his wife in her eagerness 
to advance the interests of her children. A son of 
Philip by his first wife was living, and would succeed 
to the Spanish throne; Louis XV. had a son, and 
the possibility of a Spanish prince succeeding to the 
French throne was very remote. Kingdoms must 
therefore be found for the children of Elizabeth, or 
they would remain obscure princes, with little chance 

1 M^m. 1735, Cor. d'Esp., 427, 406. " Jamais cette marine 
ne sera qu'un ^pouvantail et un ddjeuner pour les Anglais." 

2 Cor. d'Esp., 369, 230 ; 428, 33. " The interests of Spain 
are not those of the queen," wrote a Spaniard. " The queen 
will always sacrifice the more important interests of Spain for 
the smallest advantage she can obtain in Italy," said the French 
ambassador. Ih., 390. 392. 


of holding a prominent position in the world. One 
of them had indeed been made Duke of Parma and 
Piacenza, but this portion was not sufficient, and, 
moreover, she had another to provide for. The peace- 
ful policy of Fleury had long been odious to the 
queen, and a war with Austria now furnished the 
opportunity she had desired. It was at once sug- 
gested that a close and intimate alliance between the 
two crowns should be formed, and to Elizabeth the 
idea of a combination that would procure for her 
sons the Italian possessions on which her heart was 
set was eminently acceptable.^ 

The advantages of the proposed treaty were chiefly 
on the side of Spain, but none the less the suggestion 
of such a measure was favorably received in France. 
Louis XV. was strongly attached to his family, and 
felt in efforts to increase the dignity of Bourbon 
princes an interest which he rarely gave to the wel- 
fare of his own kingdom. "We shall be charmed at 
anything which can cement a personal union between 
the two branches of the House of Bourbon," wrote 
Chauvelin.2 " The king regards the interests of the 
infante as his own, and will gladly employ all our 
forces for his support and his glory. "^ When these 
views were held at Versailles, the negotiations for a 
treaty went on prosperously. It was to no avail that 
the French ambassador at Madrid suggested doubts 
as to the value of such an alliance. "We must con- 
sider," he said, "the condition of the government, the 

^ The course of the negotiations which led to the making of 
the first family compact can be followed in the Cor. d'Espagne, 
Aff. Etr., t. 390 to 406, correspondence for 1732 and 1733. 

2 Chauvelin to Rottembourg, April, 1732. 

3 Ih., August 19. 


caprices of the queen, the rascality of the ministers, 
that they have neither money, nor credit, nor troops." ^ 
These suggestions were not heeded, and in November, 
1733, the treaty of the Escurial was signed, the first 
of the so-called family compacts which so much dis- 
turbed Europe in the last century. This was, in the 
very words of the treaty, described as an " eternal and 
irrevocable family compact," and by it the French 
agreed that Don Carlos should have, in addition to 
his present possessions, Naples and Sicily, and that 
no peace should be made with Austria until this 
result had been secured. France agreed also to use 
her efforts to induce England to cede Gibraltar to 
Spain, to employ force for this purpose, if required, 
and never to cease her endeavors until Spain had 
satisfaction; the two governments were to consult 
together on all questions, but the only provision 
which the treaty contained for France was that her 
commerce with Spain should receive as favorable 
treatment as was given to any other nation. ^ 

Both Louis and Elizabeth were disappointed in 
their anticipations; the objects sought to be secured 
by the first of the family compacts, like those of the 
similar treaties which followed, were not accom- 
plished; the union of the two branches of the Bour- 
bon family sometimes proved to the disadvantage of 
one of the parties, and sometimes to the disadvantage 
of both; least of all did this alliance bring about a 
result, the hope of which had excited the infirm brain 
of Philip V. ; if the naval forces of the House of 

^ Letters of Rottembourg of August 2 and October 5. 
^ The treaty was kept secret, but it is found in the Archives 
des Aff. Etr.y Cor. cCEspagney 408, 44, et seq. 


Bourbon were united, he said, this would destroy 

Before the treaty of the Escurial was signed, 
France had commenced hostilities ; her armies crossed 
the Rhine and the Alps, and the war of the Polish 
Succession began. In this contest France had the co- 
operation of Sardinia and Spain, and it proceeded 
favorably for the allies. It was indeed an unequal 
conflict. The armies of Austria were not sufficient 
to protect her great possessions in Germany, in the 
Low Countries, and in Italy ; her strength had been 
slowly but steadily diminishing, nor had any ruler 
been able to revive her declining energies. Charles 
VI., the present emperor, possessed no greater abili- 
ties than his predecessors for a century; he was a 
dull and obstinate man, impressed with the idea that 
the empire of which he was the head exceeded in 
power and greatness all its enemies, but unable to util- 
ize what resources it had; he was not a warrior like 
Charles V. ; he had neither the vigor of Ferdinand 
II., nor the qualities that excite popular enthusiasm, 
and which were exhibited by his heroic daughter. 
The French were better prepared for hostilities, and 
were eager to begin them. It was twenty years since 
France had been engaged in any war worth the name, 
and there had been no period of peace so long as this 
during the whole of the seventeenth century ; the old 
soldiers were weary of tranquillity, the young men 
wished an opportunity to distinguish themselves, and 
the treatment which Stanislaus had received was 
regarded as an ample justification for hostilities. 
"Everybody is starting for the war," wrote Marais; 
^ Conversation reported in Cor. d'Espagne, 394, 21. 



"the whole nation has gone crazy over it, and is 
eager to avenge the affront offered to our king." ^ 

One might have doubted the vigor with which 
operations would be carried on from the maturity of 
those who were chosen to command them. It was not 
strange that Fleury, who was now over eighty, be- 
lieved that men grew wiser as they grew older, nor that 
he chose generals who had already gained their fame, 
and were well past their youth. Marshal Berwick 
was given the command of the army of the Rhine ; it 
was fifty years since he began his career as a soldier, 
and during a lifetime spent in fighting he had com- 
manded the armies of England, France, and Spain. 
Villars, the hero of Denain, to whom was given the 
command in Italy, was still older in the service, and 
had reached the mature age of eighty. ^ But years 
did not always cool the ardor or the vitality of a 
French nobleman. Villars celebrated his progress by 
a series of balls in which he was not the least active 
of the dancers; he declared that in one engagement 
he was twenty hours out of the twenty-four on horse- 
back; he was as ardent and as boastful as he had 
been all his life. "Tell the king he can dispose of 
Italy as he sees fit," he said. "I am going to con- 
quer it for him." 

The Austrians had equally mature generals : Prince 
Eugene, who commanded on the Rhine, was a man of 
threescore and ten, nor was Mercy, their leader in 

^ Mem. de Marais, 1733. 

2 Villars himself claimed to be a little younger : Villars to 
king, March 26, 1734. " J'ajouterai, sire, que je croyais Tannde 
pass^e avoir 77 ans ; il y a done quelque apparence que j'en ai 
cette ann^e 78." The marshal was at his ease in addressing 
his sovereign, as he was with all the rest of the world. 


Italy, much younger, but their armies were far infe- 
rior to those of their adversaries. The emperor had 
believed that no one would venture to attack him, 
and though war had long been imminent, its outbreak 
found the Austrians wholly unprepared. There were 
only twenty-eight thousand men to protect the ex- 
tensive Italian possessions which extended from the 
Alps to Cape Passaro, and they were whoUy unequal 
to the task. Villars had little trouble in justifying 
part of his boast; the French and Sardinian armies 
met with no serious resistance, and in less than two 
months the whole of the great duchy of Milan had 
been conquered. On the 1st of December, 1733, 
Charles Emmanuel made his triumphant entry into 
the city of Milan. It was his claim that he came to 
drive away foreign oppressors, to unite Lombardy 
with Piedmont under the rule of an Italian prince, 
and he at once assumed the title of Duke of Milan. 
More than a century later his descendant in like 
manner took possession of Lombardy as the represent- 
ative of Italian unity, and was received with univer- 
sal enthusiasm by a people who loathed their foreign 
rulers and demanded that Italy should belong to the 
Italians. There does not seem to have been a trace 
of such feeling in the early part of the last century; 
the doctrine of nationalities, which has since played 
so great a part in the history of Europe, was then 
wholly undeveloped in Italy, and had little influence 
in Germany. Not only were the people of Milan 
indifferent to the idea of exchanging a foreign ruler 
for an Italian king, but, on the whole, they preferred 
to be left as they were. A witness has described the 
entry of Charles into Milan, a strange contrast to the 
famous scene when Victor Emmanuel and Louis Na- 


poleon entered in triumph one hundred and twenty- 
six years later. A Te Deuni was sung in the cathe- 
dral by order of the conqueror, but there was no joy 
among the people; they stood sullenly about the 
streets, and looked with averted gaze upon the troops 
entering their city; the most of them felt that they 
would be as well treated by the emperor as by the 
king of Sardinia, and they wished no change.^ But if 
the people were not enthusiastic, they were passive; 
they offered no resistance, and the Austrians had no 
forces with which to resist. 

The campaign on the Rhine was less important 
than that of Milan ; the French captured Kehl, and 
in the year following Philipsburg was taken after a 
long and tedious siege. The empire declared war 
upon the French, but, as was usually the case with that 
inert body, the declaration proved of small impor- 
tance, and the states of the empire furnished little 
aid to their chief. 

In the south, however, events took place which 
had more permanent results than the easy victories of 
Villars. Late in 1733, the Spanish forces landed in 
Italy. Spain, Sardinia, and France were nominally 
engaged in the expulsion of the emperor from the 
Italian peninsula, but the queen of Spain had refused 
to accede to the treaty between France and Sardinia, 
and her soldiers were now bidden to give no heed to 
their nominal associates, and to devote their attention 
to conquests of which her children would have the 
fruits. It was in vain that Villars advised the union 
of the various armies in order to prevent the Aus- 

^ Fontanieu to minister of war, December 12, 1733. The 
Venetian Fosearini noticed the same thing, and spoke of the 
terror and gloom with which the city was filled. 


trians sending reinforcements into Italy; the Spanish 
would not cooperate with the French, nor obey the 
orders of Charles Emmanuel, and their entire army 
at once turned its forces southward to conquer Naples 
for Don Carlos.^ 

The result of this undertaking appeared problemati- 
cal; the Spanish army was small at the start, and it 
melted away on the march, until it was little over 
twelve thousand strong when Naples was reached. 
It seemed presumptuous to attempt the conquest of 
two kingdoms with a handful of men, but the effort 
was crowned with success. If the Spanish invaders 
were weak, the Austrian defenders were weaker, and 
the people were more friendly to the new rulers than 
to the old. It was only a quarter of a century that the 
Austrians had ruled at Naples, and their administra- 
tion was not popular; Spanish agents promised that, 
under Don Carlos, odious imposts shoidd be abol- 
ished, and popular privileges restored, and they 
gained adherents for him in all classes. These prom- 
ises of reform might not be fulfilled, but the success 
of Don Carlos assured one change that was welcome 
to the people: he was not endeavoring to make of 
Naples a province of Spain ; he was to be their own 
king ; they would be governed by a monarch dwelling 
among them, instead of by the viceroy of some distant 
state. As his little army drew near, the population 
rose in his behalf; the scanty Austrian garrisons 
could offer small resistance ; they were defeated in a 
battle, and were glad to make their escape north. On 
the 15th of May, 1734, Don Carlos entered Naples 
amid the genuine enthusiasm of the people over whom 
he was to rule. Sicily offered no more resistance 
1 VUlars to king, April 22, 1734. 


than Naples; Don Carlos became the king of the 
Two Sicilies, and founded another line of Bourbon 

Curiously enough, the dynasty thus established was 
still upon the throne of Naples, when the parent 
stock, the French Bourbons, had been finally expelled 
from the throne of France. During one hundred and 
twenty-seven years Bourbon princes reigned in Na- 
ples, except when driven from their place by the 
French themselves. Unfortunately, their rule was 
not as beneficial as it was prolonged; Don Carlos 
himself, the first of the line, was also the best; his 
successors constituted the most retrograde and big- 
oted branch of the Bourbon family, and when they 
were at last driven from the throne, it was to the 
delight of their subjects and with the approval of 

The conquest of Naples was the most important 
achievement of the war. The campaigns on the 
Rhine were wholly unproductive, nor were the opera- 
tions in Italy, after the first victories of Yillars, more 
important in their results. It was not because the 
forces were insufficient, but because the leaders were 
inharmonious, that no progress was made. Charles 
Emmanuel had possession of Milan ; any further con- 
quests in Italy he knew would be for the Spanish 
princes, and he would do nothing to forward their in- 
terests. Elizabeth Farnese was equally resolved that 
she would do nothing that could prove of assistance 
to the king of Sardinia. As the Austrians abandoned 
the Two Sicilies, in 1735, the Spanish army made 
its appearance in Northern Italy, but its presence 
there proved a hindrance rather than a help. 

The Spanish refused to act under the orders of 


Charles Emmanuel, and insisted on laying siege to 
Mantua, wliich they hoped to add to the possessions 
of the infante ; but if Charles could not have Mantua 
for himself, he preferred that it should belong to Aus- 
tria; he would not assist in the siege, and thereupon 
the Spanish declined any longer to pay the subsidy 
which they were bound to furnish.^ 

The progress of the war was hindered also by the 
death of the great generals who commanded at its 
beginning. The exposures of the Italian campaign 
proved too much for a man who had passed fourscore 
years, and in June, 1734, Villars closed his long 
military career. As he lay on his death-bed in Turin 
the news came that Marshal Berwick, his lifelong- 
rival for fame, had been struck by a bullet while in 
the trenches before Philipsburg and killed on the 
spot. ''That man has always been more fortunate 
than I," said the dying soldier. ^ 

While dissensions between the allies brought the 
war almost to a standstill, negotiations for peace were 
in active progress. England and Holland first en- 
deavored to restore harmony, and proposed terms that 
were not very unfair, but were unacceptable to all 
parties. Meanwhile, secret conferences were held be- 
tween the principal combatants. Fleury was always 
eager for peace, and he lost no time in replying to 
the overtures made by the emperor. In these nego- 
tiations the cardinal showed great sagacity and not 
much good faith. France was bound by treaties 
of alliance with Sardinia and with Spain. It was 
indeed easy to find grievances against both of her 
associates : Charles Emmanuel, when he had obtained 

1 Cor. d'Espagne for 1735. 

2 Mem. de Villars, 445. 


what he desired for himself, would do nothing for 
any one else ; the Spanish had from the first refused 
to assist in any operations, except such as were taken 
in their own interests, and as an effective alliance 
against Austria the cooperation of the three nations 
was a farce. Moreover, the queen of Spain was 
unreasonable in her demands, and Fleury said in 
his anger that he would not carry on war to please 
a woman's caprice.^ Thus he had some justification 
for agreeing on terms without consulting his associ- 
ates, but his procedure was not marked by any deli- 
cate sense of good faith. He was little disturbed by 
such considerations; the plan of taking Italy from 
Austria in order to divide it between the king of Sar- 
dinia and the children of Elizabeth Farnese was a 
scheme of Chauvelin ; the cardinal saw in an increase 
of French territory a far more tangible advantage 
than in making Italian princes of the cousins of 
Louis XV.2 

Early in 1735, the Austrian court intimated its 
desire for peace, and the cardinal at once sent trusty 
representatives to Vienna. With such secrecy were 
these negotiations carried on, that though they ex- 
tended over several months, their existence seems to 
have been suspected by no one.^ 

^ Cor. d^Espagne, 369, 25. Fleury denied making this re- 
mark, but probably he said it, and certainly he thought it. 

* The Spanish gave notice they would no longer pay the sub- 
sidy (letter of Patino, October 12) on account of the refusal of 
Charles Emmanuel to supply cannon for the siege of Mantua. 
This letter came just in time to furnish the French a pretext for 
making the treaty with Austria, to which they had already 
agreed. See letter of Chauvelin to Vaulgrenant, October, 1735. 

^ For the negotiations as to this treaty, I have followed the 
correspondence in the foreign ofdce. Cor. de Vienne, 1735, t. 


France and Austria each had a demand to make 
which was thought of essential importance, and fortu- 
nately for the success of the negotiations, their de- 
mands did not conflict. It was impossible to suppose 
that after Stanislaus had been chased from his king- 
dom, and his rival had for two years been in peace- 
ful possession of the Polish throne, the Fi'ench can- 
didate would be allowed to rule over the country of 
which he had twice been elected king. Yet it was in 
behalf of Stanislaus that the French had declared 
war. The results of the contest had on the whole 
been decidedly favorable to them, and they felt that 
their honor was involved in making no peace unless 
Stanislaus was compensated for the loss of his throne.^ 

The emperor had an object in view to which he 
attached still greater importance. He had no son, 
and it had long been the chief object of his policy to 
secure for his daughter Maria Theresa the great pos- 
sessions of the House of Hapsburg. By the Prag- 
matic Sanction, issued in 1713, he declared that his 
oldest daughter should succeed to the sovereignty of 
all the states ruled by him, should he die leaving no 
son, and for twenty years he sought to obtain from 
the European powers a recognition of the rights thus 
secured to her. 

Thus far France had steadily refused to acknow- 
ledge the validity of the Pragmatic Sanction, and her 
relations were of the most friendly nature with the 
Elector of Bavaria, who was Maria Theresa's most 
serious competitor for the possessions of the Haps- 

When the commissioners met in secret conference 

^ Cor. d'Autriche, 181, 148, et pas. Referat de la Conference 
du 9 Septembre, 1735, from the Austrian records. 


at Vienna, the French demanded substantial advan- 
tages for Stanislaus. The emperor was willing to 
accede to their requests, if he could obtain a ratifica- 
tion of his daughter's title in return. Free from the 
opposition of France, he believed that she could in- 
herit in peace what he wished should be hers. The 
French asked the duchies of Bar and Lorraine for 
Stanislaus, as compensation for his resignation of the 
throne of Poland, and such an arrangement would not 
only satisfy the honor of France, but would redound 
to her advantage; Stanislaus's only heir was the 
French queen, and therefore upon his death both 
duchies must go in absolute sovereignty to France.^ 
Over neither of them had Charles VI. any rights, 
except the vague authority of the empire, but the 
young Duke of Lorraine was the cousin of Maria 
Theresa, and had been selected as her husband. As 
he was to receive from the hands of Charles the 
heiress of greater states than Mary of Burgundy or 
Isabella of Castile, he was sure to accede to plans 
which were for the advantage of the imperial family. 
He was not asked to surrender his duchy without 
compensation. In those days states were handed 
about without reference to the wishes of their inhab- 
itants ; the Grand Duke of Tuscany was old, infirm, 
and childless, and the great powers of Europe had 
already decided that he should be succeeded by one 
of the Spanish infantes, who were chronic applicants 
for all vacant duchies or thrones. This arrangement 
was now changed without the formality of consulting 

1 The statement often repeated and adopted by Martin that 
Fleury was content with Bar, and Chauvelin's interposition 
secured Lorraine, is shown to be erroneous by an examination 
of the correspondence at the foreign office. 


the Spanish queen, and Tuscany was agreed upon as 
a compensation for Lorraine. The exchange was not 
an unfair one, but it could not be without regret that 
the House of Lorraine consented to surrender their 
ancient possessions; for seven hundred years they 
had ruled in that duchy ; it had been subject to them 
almost as long as the Isle of France to the House of 
Capet. It was now agreed that the duchies of Bar 
and Lorraine were to be ceded to Stanislaus for 
his lifetime, and that upon his death they should be 
incorporated with France.^ Thus Lorraine at last 
became French, and so remained until it was con- 
quered by the Prussians more than a century later. 
Its destinies had long been controlled by France, and 
its condition was improved by incorporation into that 
kingdom. It had been subject to French domination, 
without being entitled to the benefit of French pro- 
tection ; at the beginning of this war, as often before, 
the French had at once taken possession of the duchy ; 
they had demanded of its inhabitants supplies for 
their troops, fodder for their horses, magazines for 
their ammunition ; the cession now made changed an 
occupation by might into a possession by right. In 
return for the acquisition of this rich and prosperous 
province, the French agreed to guarantee the Prag- 
matic Sanction, and no one can deny the bad faith of 
French statesmen when a few years later they failed 
to keep their word. "The cession of Lorraine," 
Fleury himself wrote, "is a sort of compensation 
for the guarantee of the Pragmatic Sanction," and 
in almost as explicit terms this was stated in the 

1 The articles first signed did not give Stanislaus possession 
of Lorraine until the death of the grand duke, but this condi- 
tion was afterwards modified. 


articles signed by the representatives of France and 

When these two great questions were satisfactorily 
arranged, there was little trouble in agreeing on other 
matters. The French did everything in their power 
to obtain favorable terms for their allies, except man- 
ifest a determination to fight for them; as a result, 
while Charles Emmanuel and Don Carlos got some- 
thing, it was a good deal less than they had hoped 
for, or than had been agreed upon in the treaties 
made between France, Sardinia, and Spain. Don 
Carlos was indeed recognized as king of the Two Sici- 
lies, and he was given besides the ports on the Tus- 
can coast, but in return for this the duchies of Parma 
and Piacenza, which he already held, were ceded to 
Austria, and his rights to the succession of Tuscany 
were transferred to the Duke of Lorraine. Don Car- 
los was left king of a rich and populous country, but 
his other possessions, with which his mother expected 
to make her second son a powerful prince, were un- 
ceremoniously taken away. The larger part of the 
duchy of Milan was surrendered to Austria, and 
Charles Emmanuel had to be content with a modest 
portion of the coveted territory. As a concession to 
French pride, the legality of Stanislaus's election was 
recognized, but he was forthwith to resign his office, 
and Augustus III., who had long been king in fact, 
became king dejure as well. 

Stanislaus was allowed to retain the title of king 
of Poland with whatever precedence that secured 
for him. Title and rank were nearly all there was to 
the Polish monarchy, and as Stanislaus exchanged a 

1 Fleury to La Baume, September 11, 1735, Cor. d'AutrichCf 
181, pas. 


nominal authority over an unruly people for a com- 
fortable life and an ample allowance in Lorraine, he 
had no reason to be discontented. 

On the 3d of October, 1735, articles containing 
these terms were signed at Vienna. Long delibera- 
tion was required to settle all the conditions, and not 
until 1738 was the treaty of Vienna signed, but save 
in unimportant detail it followed the secret agreement 
made between France and Austria in 1735. ^ 

The unpleasant duty now devolved upon the French 
of notifying their allies that terms had been fixed for 
them without the formality of consultation. It was 
not an agreeable task either at Turin or at Madrid, 
but the minister who had to meet the wrath of Eliza- 
beth Farnese was most commiserated. It was her 
anger that was feared, and not that of the king, for 
the insignificance of the role of Philip V. appears 
even in the most casual references to Si3anish poli- 
tics. "We must expect discontent from our allies," 
Chauvelin wrote the emperor, "and especially from 
the queen of Spain." ^ "We are sincerely sorry for 
you, because you will have to announce this news," 
the minister said to the Count of Vaulgrenant, whose 
duty it was to face the lioness in her den.^ There 
was ample reason to anticipate an unpleasant quarter 
of an hour, for the Spanish queen had a temper of 
extraordinary violence, and, when excited by opposi- 
tion, her voice was raised, her face was flushed, and 

^ The treaty of Vienna was not ratified by Spain and Sardinia 
until 1739. The articles signed at Vienna in 1735 are found 
in Correspondance de Vienne, 181. The course of these nego- 
tiations I have followed in the official correspondence of the 
Affaires Etrangeres. 

2 Chauvelin to emperor, November 18, 1735. 

^ Chauvelin to Vaulgrenant, October 27, 1735. 


she poured out a stream of vituperation; even her 
favorite minister planned in what manner disagree- 
able news could be conveyed to her with least danger 
of a scene of violence, and expressed great relief when 
any such occasion passed without exciting a torrent 
of abuse that would have done credit to a fish woman. ^ 
As for poor Philip, no one was disturbed by him; 
when any startling announcement was made, he kept 
close watch of his wife's face, and regulated his con- 
duct accordingly. 2 On this occasion the French min- 
ister escaped more easily than he had anticipated. 
The queen was deeply disappointed that her ambition 
for her sons could not be gratified, but she indulged 
in no burst of passion before the minister; she con- 
tented herself with treating him with an icy civility. 
Indeed, disappointed as were both Elizabeth and 
Charles Emmanuel at the terms of the treaty, they 
recognized the fact that they could hope for nothing 
except with the aid of France ; if their ally would do 
no more, though they might repine, it was useless to 
resist. Spain and Sardinia sullenly acceded to the 
terms agreed upon for them, and with unimportant 
alterations these were incorporated into the treaty of 

The war thus ended had been brief, and from a 
military standpoint had not been notable, but it re- 
sulted in important and permanent changes. A 
Bourbon line of princes was established on the throne 
of Naples; the House of Savoy extended its posses- 

^ There are innumerable references to such scenes in the 
French correspondence, and there were frequent interviews with 
the Spanish minister, Patino, as to how they could be avoided. 

^ See an account of such an interview given by the Bishop of 
Rennes in 1743. Cor. (VEspagnCy 475, 124, et seq. 


sions somewhat in Lombardy, and though the gain 
was not important, yet the princes of that family 
never loosed their hold on what they had once ob- 
tained, and each new strip of territory served as a 
basis for further advances. Lorraine was annexed 
to France, and strengthened her frontier along the 
Rhine ; it was the last acquisition made by the French 
monarchy on the Continent, and closed the long pro- 
cess of territorial aggrandizement begun under Hugh 
Capet. Though the treaty of Vienna contained pro- 
visions which guaranteed to Poland her liberties and 
the right to a free election of her kings, yet the events 
of the war showed, more distinctly than had before 
been seen, the subjection of that country to her 
powerful neighbors ; the war of the Polish Succession 
hastened the political decline which at last resulted 
in the dismemberment of Poland. So far as the great 
powers of Europe were concerned, France emerged 
stronger from the struggle and Austria weaker ; the 
preponderance of France in European politics seemed 
assured ; but Louis XV. had still over thirty years to 
reign, and during that long period the heedlessness, 
the inefficiency, and the corruption of the administra- 
tion greatly lessened the influence of that country. 

The annexation of Lorraine to France was accom- 
plished without delay. In 1737, Stanislaus took pos- 
session of his new government, and he forthwith 
turned over to the king of France the revenues and 
the administration of his duchies. All that he re- 
served for himself, it was said, was to insure the hap- 
piness of his subjects, and so far as lay in his power, 
he did this with a fidelity equaled by few sovereigns. 
For thirty years he ruled over Lorraine, and he was a 
very king of Yvetot. 


Stanislaus was allowed by the French government 
an income of two million livres; the sum was not 
large for one who was expected to display the state of 
a sovereign prince, but imder his prudent care it was 
more than enough. In all Europe there was not so 
well ordered a court : there was no waste, there was 
no plundering ; each month all bills were paid, — no- 
thing was ever allowed to stand over the appointed 
day; Stanislaus was the only monarch who was never 
in debt and never in need of money. 

With all his thrift he maintained the dignity of 
a ruler; he had his companies of guards, a grand 
marshal, a grand master of the house, chamberlains, 
gentlemen in waiting, forty valets, twenty -four cooks, 
and a mistress, but his dislike for pomp allowed him 
to dispense with many costly officials.^ A gentleman 
in the employ of the former Duke of Lorraine applied 
to Stanislaus for a similar position. "What was 
your office?" asked the monarch. "I was master of 
ceremonies," replied the gentleman. "Alas," said 
the king, "I never allow any one even to make a rev- 
erence before me." His was a model court. At 
nine every night, when the dukes and marquises of 
Versailles were ready for the gambling-tables, Stanis- 
laus and his courtiers went peaceably to bed. 

The king conversed affably with every one ; he rode 
about the country attended by a single groom; no 
monarch was so easy of access. He delighted in 
pleasures which showed an amiable, though not, per- 

^ His mistress, the Marquise de Boufflers, indited for herself 
the well-known epitaph : — 

" Ci git dans une paix profonde 
Cette dame de volupt»5, 
Qui pour plus grande surety 
Fit son paradis dans ce monde." 


haps, a profound mind. He had a dwarf, and in the 
days of the Encyclopedia, few kings condescended to 
be amused by dwarfs. Bebe was a prominent figure 
at this simple-minded court. On one occasion a 
great pate appeared on the table, and from it emerged 
the dwarf, armed cap-a-pie, who proceeded to perform 
his evolutions, to the delight of all except one gentle- 
man, whom he hit on the nose with his spear. ^ The 
king had an artificial waterfall constructed, in which 
he took great pride. When the water was turned on, 
cocks crew, a cat pursued a rat, a hermit beat his 
breast, a cart man drove his cart, to the delight of 
guests in an age less sophisticated than ours.^ The 
king had other ways of amusing himself. He spent 
many hours puffing away at a pipe six feet long ; he 
compounded new dishes, and donning his apron, with 
an attendant to assist him, he concocted an imitation 
Tokay, which was thought to possess much merit, and 
a bottle of which many years later, either on account 
of its maker or its quality, sold for forty francs. But 
Stanislaus was a scholar as well: he loved to talk 
philosophy with men of learning; he wrote answers 
to Rousseau's sophisms; he published essays on polit- 
ical questions, which unfortunately few ever bothered 
to read ; he issued dissertations on the proper conduct 
of kings, and exemplified them in his own life. 

Moderate as was his income, he had much for 
splendor and much for charity. He built extensively, 
and made Nancy a handsome city; he constructed 
palaces and churches and hospitals, tearing down 
sometimes, for his improvements, buildings which we 

^ Noel, Mem. pour servir. 

2 The Duke of Luynes has described his wonder and delight 
at this piece of mechanism. 


should think more interesting and more beautiful; 
but such was the fashion in the eighteenth century. 
He established institutions of learning and of benefi- 
cence ; he had his little academy at Nancy, in imita- 
tion of the great academy at Paris ; he gave liberally 
to the poor, founded a hospital for infirm soldiers, 
endowed a public library, supported twelve Jesuit 
missionaries, and gave portions to eight daughters of 
needy noblemen, on which to marry. He established 
another charity which was his own invention, and 
intended to preserve his subjects from the voracity of 
lawyers; five counselors, men of learning and integ- 
rity, were paid a fixed salary, in return for which 
they were bound to give gratuitous advice to all who 
applied for it. 

The little court at Luneville became a favorite 
resort for men of letters, who found in Stanislaus a 
hospitable entertainer and an agreeable companion. 
Montesquieu visited it, and Henault and Helvetius; 
Voltaire made long stays there, and Mme. de Chatelet 
there met with the Marquis of St. Lambert and 
her death. When the kindly old king unfortunately 
set his robe de chambre on fire, and died from his 
injuries, his loss was sincerely mourned by his sub- 
jects, and this cannot be said of many sovereigns, 
who were more powerful and more wise.^ 

^ Many accounts of Stanislaus's life in Lorraine are found in 
the memoirs of Luynes and Hdnault. His official dealings with 
the government are contained among the documents marked 
Lorraine at the Affaires Etrangeres. Noel, in his Memoires pour 
servir a Vhistoire de Lorraine, while acknowledging Stanislaus's 
amiable character, says that his charities were not always wise, 
and that the administration of the French officials during his 
reign was often harsh, and this very possibly is correct. 


After the close of the war of the Polish Succes- 
sion, Fleury again enjoyed the tranquillity that was 
dear to his soul. With the exception of two years of 
bad crops, the country enjoyed a reasonable prosper- 
ity ; the budget showed a surplus ; though his enemies 
watched eagerly for the signs of approaching dissolu- 
tion, the old cardinal, now nearing ninety, still held 
his power unimpaired, and he could look forward to 
a peaceful ending of a long and successful political 

These reasonable anticipations were doomed to dis- 
appointment. In 1740, the Emperor Charles VI. 
was a man of only fifty-five ; his health was some- 
what impaired, but he might reasonably expect many 
more years of life. He had shown, however, more 
than ordinary solicitude in his endeavors to regulate 
the condition of his empire after he should be taken 
away. For almost five hundred years the House of 
Hapsburg had ruled in Austria, and for three centu- 
ries the imperial crown had been worn by Austrian 
archdukes. The possessions of this ancient and illus- 
trious family had been increased by marriage and by 
conquest, but no effort had been made to mould into 
one nationality the scattered states which owed it alle- 
giance. Such a task would have been difficult, and to 
some extent impossible. Even if Austria had mani- 
fested the genius for assimilation which has been a 


chief factor in the greatness of France, no common 
feeling of patriotism would have united Germans and 
Bohemians, Hungarians and Italians. The states had 
been artificially joined together, and they might easily 
fall asunder ; they were held by varied titles, by in- 
heritance, conquest, and treaty, and there was hardly 
one of these scattered possessions to which other rulers 
could not advance plausible claims, on the failure of 
the male line of the House of Hapsburg. 

Charles had no sons to inherit his throne, and his 
daughter Maria Theresa, was heiress of his estates. 
It was certain that the imperial crown could not be 
worn by a woman, but Charles hoped the electors 
would make choice of his son-in-law, the former Duke 
of Lorraine, now Grand Duke of Tuscany, and the 
dignity might thus be preserved to his family. He 
knew, however, that the hereditary possessions of his 
house were far more important than the sounding 
title of emperor, and for many years his energies 
had been devoted to obtaining the recognition of the 
claims of his daughter Maria Theresa. Apparently 
these efforts had been successful. France, Spain, 
Prussia, Russia, England, and most of the minor 
German powers had recognized her rights to the in- 
heritance of her father; she had the agreement of 
many of these states to protect her against all ene- 
mies ; if faith could be put in treaties, Charles might 
die in peace. 

There was never a period when treaties were less 
respected or more lightly violated ; it was a common- 
place among diplomats that kings were bound by 
their agreements so long only as it was for their in- 
terest to observe them ; and this maxim had long 
controlled the practice of European rulers. It had 


recently found a conspicuous example in Louis XIV., 
who rarely observed a treaty to his disadvantage ; it 
was to find its most illustrious exponent in Frederick 
the Great, who never did so. 

Charles had been emperor for nearly thirty years ; 
he was too familiar with the practices of other courts, 
and of his own, to feel sure that his daughter would 
be undisturbed in her inheritance, because the great 
powers of Europe had promised that she should be. 
But there were reasons of more weight than diplo- 
matic signatures which might reasonably lead him to 
hope that no attempt would be made to despoil Maria 
Theresa. France had no interest in interfering ; the 
time was past when she had any cause to fear the as- 
cendency of the House of Austria, or when her safety 
demanded the abasement of that power: a policy 
which had been wise in the days of Richelieu would 
be folly in the days of Fleury. Wisdom was not 
always found in the councils of France, but Fleury 
was the head of the administration, and a long politi- 
cal career had proved his moderation and his good 
sense ; his aversion to war was well known, his skill 
in averting it had been often shown, his influence 
would surely be exercised in behalf of peace. There 
was no reason to apprehend the hostility of England ; 
that country would be more apt to exert itself in be- 
half of the House of Austria than in opposition to it. 
Spain had ratified the Pragmatic Sanction, but neither 
Philip nor his wife would be influenced by that fact ; 
they would be eager to disturb the peace of Europe, 
if there was any prospect of obtaining Italian pos- 
sessions for their offspring; but unless Spain was 
assisted by France, her hostility was not important. 
Tl4e Elector of Bavaria, almost alone among princes 


of importance, had refused to recognize the Pragmatic 
Sanction.^ He was ambitious for the imperial crown, 
he laid claim to some of the hereditary dominions of 
the House of Austria, and his claims were not alto- 
gether without foundation ; he could assume a posi- 
tion of hostility to Maria Theresa without violating 
his faith, but the Elector of Bavaria was not a sover- 
eign of sufficient importance to excite any apprehen- 
sion in the heir of Charles VI. There seemed no 
reason why Russia should interfere. Prussia was 
ruled by a young king who was known to Europe 
by a book he had published in denunciation of the 
principles of Macchiavelli ; it could not have been an- 
ticipated that he would become their chief exponent. 
He was, moreover, under a strong debt of gratitude 
to the emperor, whose friendly interference had tem- 
pered the capricious rage of his eccentric father, and 
whose ambassador had furnished him money which he 
had eagerly accepted. ^ 

The value of treaties with the great powers of Eu- 
rope was soon to be tested. Though the health of the 
emperor had been for some time declining, his con- 
dition was not thought to be alarming. He took a 
severe cold, and to this was added an attack of indi- 

1 In 1726, the Elector of Bavaria signed a treaty recognizing 
the Pragmatic Sanction, but the treaty had expired, and it had 
long been publicly announced that the elector claimed this in- 
strument to be invalid. 

2 The common tradition that Frederick's life was saved by the 
interference of the emperor is a mistake. The Austrian ambas- 
sador did not present the appeal of his court for mercy until 
Frederick William had decided to pardon his offending son. 
But the knowledge that the imperial court would disapprove 

I any such severity had its effect upon the irritable king. Lavisse, 
Jeunesse du grand Frederic, 269, 313. • 


gestion from eating too freely of mushrooms ; he grew 
rapidly worse, and after an illness of a few days, on 
October 20, 1740, he died. He was succeeded by his 
daughter Maria Theresa, who was then twenty-three 
years of age. The long anticipated failure of the male 
line of the House of Hapsburg was a reality ; a woman 
for the first time was called upon to rule over the 
scattered dominions of that family, and it was now to 
be seen whether the powers of Europe would abide 
by their agreements and allow her to enjoy her her- 
itage in peace, or whether they would attempt to de- 
spoil her of her possessions because they believed she 
was unable to defend them. 

Any doubts on the subject were soon removed. 
The emperor died on October 20, and on the 26th 
the news reached Frederick II. at Rheinsberg. On 
the same date he wrote Voltaire, " I think by June we 
shall have more to do with powder and soldiers and 
trenches than with actresses and ballets and theatres." ^ 
The king decided on his policy with the promptness 
which characterized his extraordinary intellect; he at 
once resolved that he would take Silesia from Maria 
Theresa, peacefully if he could, and forcibly if he 
must. The report prepared by Frederick's order and 
dated October 29, three days after the news was re- 
ceived of the emperor's death, states explicitly that 
the king had decided to profit by the present pros- 
perous condition of affairs and annex Silesia, this 
being the most favorable opportunity for the solid 
aggrandizement of Prussia which had presented itself 
for a long period.^ Frederick was right in recogniz- 
ing the importance of Silesia, and in deciding that this 

1 Frederick to Voltaire, October 26, 1740 ; (Euv., x. 163. 
^ Politische Correspondenz Friedrichs des Grossen, i. 74. 


was the favorable moment to acquire it, and neither 
treaties nor good faith prevented him from seizing the 
opportunity. Some feeble claims of right were indeed 
advanced, after Frederick had first taken the province 
by force. It is unnecessary to discuss them. 

Silesia had long been in the peaceful possession of 
the House of Hapsburg ; it had never formed part of 
Prussia ; the claims of the House of Brandenburg on 
the most of Silesia had accrued eighty years before, 
and on other portions they were yet more stale ; they 
had never been acknowledged, and they had been 
expressly waived by repeated treaties. Frederick 
William had ratified the Pragmatic Sanction, which 
secured to Maria Theresa all the possessions of her 
father, and recognized her title to Silesia as much 
as to Vienna ; as has been truly said, if the titles of 
states or individuals can be disturbed after fourscore 
years of peaceable possession, there can be no peace 
for nations or private citizens. 

These flimsy pretexts of legal right never for one 
moment influenced Frederick himself. When his 
counselors suggested that by certain treaties the 
House of Brandenburg had possibly renounced its 
rights, he wrote contemptuously on the margin of 
their memorandum, " The question of right is an af- 
fair of the ministers. ... It is time to consider it in 
secret, for the orders to the troops have been given." ^ 
" My soldiers were ready, my purse was fidl," he 
said himself. " Of all the imperial succession, Silesia 
was the portion which was most useful to the House 
of Brandenburg." ^ '' Take when you can ! " he said 

^ Pol. Cor., i. 91, Mem. of November 7, by Podewils. 
2 lb., 90. Id^es sur les projets politiques formees au sujet de 
la mort de I'empereur, signed by Frederick, Mem. de Voltaire. 


again ; " you are never wrong unless you are obliged 
to give back." 

It has been reserved for modern historians to trace 
the analogy between Frederick's procedure and the 
principles which he had laid down in the " Anti-Mac- 
chiavel ; " ^ their hero never made the attempt, and 
he would have viewed such an effort with contemptu- 
ous indifference. In truth, with Frederick the Great 
as with Napoleon, questions of morality and of good 
faith must be left out of the consideration. Frederick, 
as Macaulay truly said, was a tyrant " without fear, 
without faith, and without mercy." He left it for 
others to meditate on what was justified by legal right, 
or was consistent with good faith ; he considered only 
the results of his acts upon his fame and upon the 
aggrandizement of his kingdom. He could say in his 
own defense that he was influenced by considerations 
of larger importance to posterity than whether a treaty 
was observed or a king's word was kept ; the conquest 
of Silesia was an important acquisition for a state 
which has since become the most powerful in Europe. 
What Prussia gained, Austria lost, but such is the 
general law : the Roman Empire was not built up with 
any tender regard for the states which were absorbed 
in it ; civilized peoples have conquered and extermi- 
nated inferior tribes, and the world is the better for it. 
The law of force is the ultimate one in society as well 
as in nature, and judgment must often be formed on 
an act from its results, but the endeavor to square the 
conduct of Frederick the Great with the Golden Rule 
or the Ten Commandments will never be successful.^ 

1 " Er verfuhr nach den Maximen, die er im antimachievell 
ausgesproclien liatte," says Droyseii, i. 154. 

2 The defense of whatever Frederick did and of the way in 


Frederick's policy from the time he mounted the 
throne showed his desire to increase the power of 
Prussia whenever an opportunity should offer ; he did 
not disturb himself about the balance of power in 
Europe ; he knew that the one thing of importance 
was to get something for himself. To every court he 
proposed an alliance, but with the suggestion that his 
assistance could not be obtained gratuitously. His 
representative at Paris was instructed to say that 
Frederick loved France, yet, if he was neglected, that 
feeling might pass away forever. " If I am desired 
as an ally," he wrote to his minister in England, " I 
must be shown advantages which are real. Up to this 
time I see only general protestations of friendship." ^ 

The death of the emperor furnished the opportu- 
nity which Frederick had desired. He at once re- 
solved to seize Silesia, but during the brief prepara- 
tions which were required he endeavored to lull the 
suspicions of the Austrian court, and sought allies 
wherever they could be found. If his private com- 
munications do not display a high sense of honor, they 
manifest a marvelous sagacity and adroitness. Pode- 
wils asks how Frederick's intentions shall be stated 
by his ambassadors at foreign courts. "At every 
court in a different fashion," writes the author of the 
" Anti-Macchiavel." " At London we must say that 
the Duke of Lorraine wishes to make terms with 

which he did it has been nowhere presented with more learning 
and force than in Droysen's Geschichte des Preussischen Politik^. 
It is easier to agree with the eminent historian's judgment on 
Frederick's policy than on its moral quality. "Frederick II. 
fiihlt sich moralisch bef ugt " to demand Silesia, he says, v. 
153. The term " moralisch bef ugt " is not one which Frederick 
would ever have applied to himself, 

1 Pol. Cor., 4 ; lb., 61, October 13, 1740. 


France, and that I approach Vienna to force the Aus- 
trians to join the party of the maritime powers and of 
the Protestant religion. At Hanover, Mayence, and 
Ratisbon we must talk of a patriotic heart, and say 
that I wish to sustain the empire. As for the French, 
we must handle those miscreants with gloves." ^ While 
other powers hesitated about the official recognition 
of Maria Theresa, Frederick recognized her title at 
once. When rumors of his military preparations 
reached Vienna they excited little alarm. " He will 
be like his father," it was said, " who all his life was 
cocking his gun, but never let it off." "The queen 
will see how reasonable are my projects, and how pure 
are my intentions," he told her envoy ; " assure her of 
my devotion." 

All went favorably. Frederick had feared the in- 
terference of Russia, and when he heard of the ap- 
proaching death of the Czarina Anna he could not 
restrain his joy. " The Empress of Russia is going to 
die," he wrote Podewils ; " God favors us." ^ " Adieu, 
my dear charlatan," he wrote his minister a few days 
later ; " keep a good countenance, give no signs, the 
bomb will burst in December." ^ 

In December the bomb exploded, to the consterna- 
tion of all Europe. Frederick entered Silesia at the 
head of his army, and conquered the province practi- 
cally without resistance. Having done this, he di- 
rected his ambassador to offer his assistance to Maria 
Theresa, and to demand Silesia as the price.* He 

1 Pol. Cor., i. 98-100. An den Statsminster Podewils, m^m. 
signed by Frederick. The word applied to the French does not 
admit of literal translation. 

2 Ih., 96, November 9, 1740. 
8 lb., 100, November 12. 

4 Ih, 12,2 et pas. 


acted upon his favorite maxim, he took first and asked 
afterwards. This unprovoked assault excited as much 
amazement in other courts as it did indignation at 
Vienna, but Frederick was right in thinking that it 
would excite very little else. '' If the king acts thus," 
said the English ambassador at Vienna, " he will be 
excommunicated from the society of nations ; " yet it 
was not long before England herself exerted every 
effort to secure for Frederick the province he had 

The character of Maria Theresa was as yet un- 
known, and Frederick was not without hope that she 
would cede the province for the sake of peace. " It 
can be seen," he wrote, just as he was to start for the 
invasion of Silesia, " that my intention has never been 
to make war on the queen of Hungary, but that I 
am ready to succor and assist her with all my forces 
in case of need." ^ He now wrote his ambassador at 
Vienna to impress upon the queen that he had entered 
Silesia in order that he might the better assist the 
House of Austria, and save it from the ruin with which 
it was threatened ; if that province was ceded to him, 
he would agree to protect the other possessions of 
Maria Theresa against any invader, and to use all his 
influence to procure the election of the grand duke as 

While one ambassador was offering Frederick's vote 
to the queen of Hungary, others were equally busy in 
trying to find a purchaser for the same article else- 
where. Frederick had said that his vote for emperor 
was for sale, and he did not intend to have the price 
lowered for lack of bidders. At the same time, he 

1 Valori, December 12, 1740. 
a Pol. Cor., i. 220 et pas. 


offered his support to the candidate of Austria and to 
the candidate of France ; he was willing to defend 
the Catholic queen of Hungary, or to proclaim him- 
seK the champion of the Protestants whom Austria 
had oppressed, if only he could have Silesia as the 
reward for his alliance ; if the pay was satisfactory, it 
was immaterial from whom he got it. 

Frederick never equaled his literary preceptor Vol- 
taire in the skill with which he could turn off alex- 
andrines, but there are touches in his prose worthy of 
that great master of irony. It must have been with a 
complacent smile that he put in his letter to Fleury, 
" It depends on you to make the bonds which bind us 
eternal by favoring the justice of my claims on Sile- 
sia," while at the same time he was writing George II. 
of England, " If your majesty wishes to attach a faith- 
ful ally, of an inviolable fidelity, now is the moment." ^ 
While Frederick was making promises in every court 
which he had no thought of keeping, he confided to 
his own minister the principle by which his conduct 
was governed : " If there is anything to be gained by 
being an honest man we will be one ; and if it is neces- 
sary to deceive, let us be knaves." ^ The king prac- 
ticed with unusual skill the procedure which he advo- 
cated ; he was willing to avow his principles, and he 
made no claim to virtues which he neither possessed 
nor cared to possess. 

Maria Theresa received with indignation Freder- 
ick's offer to sell his assistance and take Silesia for 

1 To king of England, January 30, 1741 ; to Fleury, January 
5, 1741. 

2 Frederick to Podewils, May 12, 1741. " S'il yak gagner k 
etre honnete homme nous le serons, et s'il faut duper soyons 
done fourbes." 


his pay ; resolute as he was, he found in this young 
girl a character as determined as his own. The king 
seems to have been somewhat surprised and still more 
angered at her determination. Like Napoleon, Fred- 
erick was vexed when any one refused to do what he 
desired ; resistance irritated him. " If the Duke of 
Lorraine wishes to destroy himself despite my good 
intentions, let him destroy himself," he wrote, when 
he was informed of the manner in which his proposi- 
tions had been received. England refused to espouse 
his quarrel, and the only powerful ally left for him 
was France. Frederick was an enthusiastic admirer 
of French literature ; he preferred the Henriade to 
the Iliad, and declared Racine superior to all his rivals 
of antiquity.^ He had been reared on French philo- 
sophy, he spoke the French language in preference to 
his own, and yet there was no nation which he viewed 
with such unfriendly eyes as the French. He scoffed 
at all the world, but his tongue was never so bitter as 
when he discussed French statesmen and French gen- 
erals. He told Podewils to play with France until it 
was certain that he could make no treaty elsewhere ; 
alliance with the French must be the last resort.^ He 
distrusted their policy, disliked their leaders, and de- 
spised their king, and his contempt was justified by the 
fatuity with which they lent themselves to his designs. 
The attack upon Silesia was the crisis of Freder- 
ick's life ; if he failed in that, his reputation was 
ruined ; he would be held up as a monarch who had 
no more judgment than he had scruples, and his hopes 
of building up the power of Prussia would be dashed 
at the beginning of his career ; he could obtain no 

* Histoire de man temps, i. 59. 
« Pol. Cor., i. 179 ei pas. 


other ally, and he now eagerly sought the aid of 

We must now consider the reasons that induced 
the French government to violate its plighted vow, 
to seek the ruin of Maria Theresa, and to assist in 
strengthening the state which was to become the most 
bitter and most dangerous enemy of France. The 
news of the emperor's death excited the same agita- 
tion at Versailles as at Berlin, and the conduct of 
France at this crisis was as important to her future as 
was that of Prussia to hers ; it was characterized by 
equal bad faith, and by much less political wisdom. 

The war of the Austrian Succession was a turning- 
point in French history. The contest, which began 
in 1741, was not really terminated until the treaty 
of Paris in 1763 ; the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle was a 
breathing-spell, the parties changed partners, but the 
war for the ruin of Prussia sprang from that under- 
taken for the ruin of Austria. During fourteen years 
hostilities were carried on in Europe, Asia, Amer- 
ica, and on the great seas, and they were attended 
with results which have modified the history of the 
world. Most wars are barren of result ; thirty years 
after their close, the parties to them are in the same 
condition as if they had remained at peace ; the tem- 
porary waste of men and money has been repaired ; 
all that remains is a little glory for a few, and the 
dim recollection of suffering among many. 

The contest which now began had results of a dif- 
ferent character. The position of France in the world 
was materially altered, and her opportunity to exer- 
cise a large influence in the development of America 
and India was forever lost. What France lost, Eng- 
land gained : English speech and English civilization 


have spread over vast areas where those of France 
bade fair to prevail ; France failed to obtain the posi- 
tion of a great colonizing power as a result of the war 
which she began in folly and bad faith. 

The ultimate consequences of this contest have also 
altered her position in Europe. The imification of 
Germany under the leadership of Prussia might in- 
deed have taken place if France had never given 
aid to Frederick the Great; the fact remains that 
in order to weaken a power which could never again 
have been dangerous, she helped to build up a state 
which now possesses the military ascendency on the 
continent that France once held. It would have been 
impossible for any statesman to foresee such a result, 
but none the less it was a lack of political wisdom 
which involved the country in hostilities against Maria 

It is not only in the loss of foreign territory and of 
external influence that we can trace the results of the 
war undertaken to weaken the House of Austria and 
continued to punish the House of Brandenburg. The 
French have always been jealous of their national 
reputation ; no people have been more submissive 
under rulers who increased the national prestige ; no 
people have been more impatient under rulers who 
were outgeneraled in battle or outwitted in diplo- 
macy. Under what we may call the modern French 
^^ monarchy, the line of kings who ruled after the feudal 
V^M system had become a thing of the past, there had 
^^ often been suffering among the people, the internal 
^^ condition of the country left much to be desired, but 
^B the destinies of France as a great European power 
^H had, on the whole, been guided with wisdom and suc- 
^H cess. France had grown in power in comparison with 


all her rivals ; few of her wars ended disastrously ; her 
victories far outnumbered her defeats ; even the war 
of the Spanish Succession, begun by Louis XIV. for 
family aggrandizement, and attended with unwonted 
military disasters, had resulted in accomplishing the 
purpose for which it was commenced ; however little 
France profited by this, it lessened any feeling of 
national disgrace. Monarchy in France was associated 
in the minds of the people with growth in power, vic- 
tory in the field, the enlargement of French terri- 
tory, the increase of French influence. 

Under Louis XV. this feeling was weakened, if it 
was not destroyed. In the war of the Austrian Suc- 
cession, though the French armies were often success- 
ful, the country gained nothing ; the only fruits of 
years of strife were an increase of the national in- 
debtedness and a weakening of the national influence. 
The Seven Years' war, which sprang from the half- 
extinguished ashes of the former contest, was far 
more disastrous. The French armies were defeated, 
the country was disgraced ; it was forced to sacrifice 
its possessions, and to make an ignominious peace. 
Beyond all doubt, these calamities weakened the hold 
of royal institutions on the French mind ; the mon- 
archy became discredited ; it was identified with de- 
feat, with military disgrace, with the loss of national 
influence. Had the reign of Louis XV. been success- 
ful and glorious, the state of public feeling would 
have been far different when the royal authority 
passed to an amiable successor. The inglorious and 
unproductive contests which now began helped to de- 
stroy that reverence for monarchy which had for 
centuries been strong among the French people. 

The arguments for war with Maria Theresa had 


their foundation in a common phase of intellectual 
shortsightedness, the inability to recognize changes 
in the condition of affairs, and the belief, which is so 
widespread and often so pernicious, that what was 
wise for our forefathers must be wise for us, their 
descendants. It had been the aim of Richelieu and 
Mazarin to procure for France the ascendency in Eu- 
ropean politics which had been exercised by the House 
of Austria. Richelieu had taken part in the Thirty 
Years' war, and he had allied himself with Protestant 
powers in the endeavor to weaken the most formida- 
ble rival of France. These efforts had been success- 
ful, and their success was the reason that it was no 
longer the part of wisdom to pursue them. In 1640, 
Austria was a dangerous enemy to France ; it was 
idle to assert that she was in 1740. In the century 
that had elapsed, the House of Bourbon had been 
steadily gaining in power, and the House of Haps- 
burg had been steadily declining. There could be 
no better proof of the weakened condition of Austria 
than was furnished by the war of the Spanish Suc- 
cession. Long years of defeat and of internal distress 
had brought France to the verge of ruin ; yet no sooner 
had the maritime powers made peace, than the em- 
peror alone found himself unable to continue the con- 
test with Louis XIV., and was forced to consent to 
the conditions of the treaty of Utrecht. 

France under Louis XV. had nothing to gain by 
further weakening the House of Austria, and still less 
was it worth while to go to war in order to transfer 
the shadowy authority of the empire to some other 
family. It had long been apparent that the emperor, 
-. except as he possessed hereditary dominions, was little 

^^B more than a myth. It imparted an additional dignity 



to the king of Bohemia and the archduke of Austria 
if he also wore the imperial crown ; it entitled him 
and his representatives to precedence at fetes and 
pageants, but though it increased his dignity, it added 
practically nothing to his power. It was pursuing 
phantoms to waste blood and money that this glitter- 
ing bauble might be transferred from the archdukes 
of Austria to the electors of Bavaria. 

The news of the emperor's death was as unexpected 
at Versailles as at Berlin, but months passed instead 
of hours before France decided what course to pursue 
in this grave emergency. If only treaty obligations 
had been considered, there would have been no need 
for delay. The war with Austria had been closed by 
the treaty signed at Vienna in 1738. By this France 
recognized the validity of the Pragmatic Sanction, and 
agi-eed to protect Maria Theresa in her inheritance. 
This agreement was based on good consideration. 
The Province of Lorraine was surrendered to Stan- 
islaus, and at his death it was to be annexed to France. 
It was an important gain. Lorraine was valuable from 
its wealth and population, valuable as a defense against 
invasion from the east bank of the Rhine. The acqui- 
sition of this province, long indeed under French in- 
fluence, but now at last incorporated into the French 
kingdom, had been the crowning achievement of the 
administration of Fleury. 

To the ordinary mind there could be no doubt as to 
the exact meaning of the treaty of 1738. No words 
could be clearer than those which were used. The 
French king promised for himself and his heirs " to 
defend with all his forces, to maintain and guarantee 
against any person whatsoever, whenever there shall 
be need, the order of succession which His Imperial 


Majesty has established ; " and yet during the nego- 
tiations for the treaty as well as after the death of 
Charles VI., questions arose as to the just interjireta- 
tion of its terms. This provision, said the French, 
cannot affect the rights of other parties, it only guar- 
antees the archduchess in the possession of what is 
lawfully hers ; but if this construction was correct, 
the whole agreement amounted to nothing. It was to 
establish the title of his daughter against the claims 
of other persons that the emperor had issued the 
Pragmatic Sanction ; if the guarantee only recognized 
Maria Theresa's right to what no one else claimed, 
it was not worth while to cede a province in order to 
obtain it. 

That such was its meaning was, however, insinuated 
not only to the Elector of Bavaria, but to the emperor 
himself. Among all the German powers, Bavaria had 
been most closely allied with France. Even in the 
days of Richelieu and Mazarin, the plan had been 
suggested of transferring the imperial crown from the 
powerful archdukes of Austria to the friendly elec- 
tors of Bavaria. In the war of the Spanish Succession 
the elector had remained constant to his alliance with 
Louis XIV., and had been driven from his dominions 
as a punishment. When peace was made, Louis in- 
sisted that his ally should be restored, and as a fur- 
ther reward for his fidelity, he made a secret treaty in 
1714 by which he agreed to assist him to be chosen 
emperor, if there should be a failure in the male line 
of the House of Austria.^ In 1727, a further treaty 
was made by which France promised to support the 
elector's claims to the kingdom of Bohemia if Charles 
VI. died leaving no sons, though still another treaty 
^ Cor. de Bavikre. 1714. 


signed in 1733 might perhaps be said to have re- 
stricted this agreement. It was, therefore, with dis- 
may that the elector heard the French were to guar- 
antee the Pragmatic Sanction as a condition of peace 
with Austria, and he at once protested against this 
abandonment of his rights. Fleury replied with the 
courteous finesse of which he was so perfect a master. 
France had no thought of abandoning her old ally, he 
wrote, but as the nature of the elector's claims was 
unknown, it was impossible to say how far they de- 
served support.^ Thereupon the elector sent an envoy 
to Paris to explain his pretensions, which were derived 
from a daughter of the former Emperor Ferdinand 
I. The Austrians, on the other hand, suspecting the 
relations which existed between France and the elec- 
tor, were anxious to have a secret article added to 
the treaty, which should in express words guarantee 
against any claims that might be made by him. 
This proposition Fleury avoided, and he even wrote 
to the emperor telling him of the pretensions now 
advanced by the elector's representative, and suggest- 
ing that some answer should be presented in order to 
throw further light on the question.^ Such an answer 
was promised, but it was never sent ; the treaty was 
at last signed with the guarantee of Maria Theresa's 
possessions in general terms, "against any person 
whatsoever," and the emperor seems to have felt that 
this was sufficient. So it was. Notwithstanding the 
suggestion cautiously thrown out by Fleury and not 
expressly contradicted by the emperor, that this guar- 
antee could not affect the rights of third parties, 

1 Fleury to Elector, November 4, 1735, and December 7, 1736. 
Cor. de Baviere. 

2 Cor. de Vienne, 1735; /&., 1737, Fleury to Charles VI. 


it meant that France would protect Maria Theresa 
against claims of whatever nature, or it meant nothing 
at all. 

Immediately after the death of Charles VI. the 
representative of the Austrian court applied to Louis 
XV. for a recognition of the just title of Maria 
Theresa to the possessions left by her father. There 
is no doubt that Fleury desired to accede to this re- 
quest. He had never loved war, he was now almost 
ninety years of age, and he wished to die in peace. 
He was aware also that France was in no condition 
for war ; the crops had been poor, the finances were 
disordered, the people were distressed.^ He knew 
that there was nothing to be gained by hostilities ; the 
talk of completing the work of Richelieu by the final 
overthrow of the power of Austria allured shallow- 
pated courtiers, but he was too sagacious to be en- 
trapped by such arguments. He at once wrote the 
Austrian minister, " The king will observe faithfully 
all the engagements he has made with your court," 
and if he had followed his own judgment, this would 
have been done.^ 

But Fleury was a very old man, and he had always 
shown adroitness of conduct rather than stubborn de- 
termination of purpose ; amid the clamor which arose, 
the cardinal temporized ; in an evil hour for his own 
fame he left the future to shape itself, and the course 
of events involved him in a policy which was as con- 
trary to his own desires as it was to wisdom and good 

1 There are many references to the poor condition of the 
country in Barbier, Argenson, A/m. de Luynes, 1740 ; Dis. Ven., 
232, 479, et pas. 

2 Fleury to Lichtenstein, November 1, 1740. 

^ Almost two weeks after the news of the emperor's death, 


Almost to a man, the nobility were eager for war. 
France had grown great, they said, by weakening the 
power of the House of Austria, and now was the time 
to complete the work; to neglect this opportunity 
would be to depart from the policy of Richelieu and 
Louis XIV., to lose the fairest occasion ever offered 
for establishing the country's preeminence in Europe. 
With few exceptions the nobles were soldiers : they 
were fond of fighting, they were eager for the dis- 
tinction which might be gained in the field ; ambition 
and the love of excitement were mingled with a blind 
adherence to what was supposed to be the ancient and 
established policy of France. 

Among those who clamored for the overthrow of 
the House of Austria was a man possessing in an 
unusual degree the faculty of exciting enthusiasm and 
confidence, and who, for a brief period, filled one 
of the most prominent roles in European politics. 
Charles Louis Fouquet, Count of Belle Isle, was a 
grandson of the famous Fouquet whose career had 
closed with sixteen years of imprisonment. A de- 
scendant of the disgraced financier had small chance 
of gaining the favor of Louis XIV. Belle Isle ob- 
tained promotion in the army as a reward for bravery, 
but it was not until the death of the old king that he 
began to push his fortunes at court. When there 
was at last an opportunity, he showed vigor and skill 
in making his way. He was tall, handsome, polite, 
insinuating, with boundless ambition and exactly the 
talents that were required to further it ; he always 
pleased, and never gave offense ; he was assiduous to 

Fleury told the Venetian ambassador that France had guaran- 
teed the Pragmatic Sanction, and was bound to observe her 
agreement. Dis. Ven., 232, 352. 


the masters, and did not forget the valets ; whether 
he mL't a minister of state, a Parisian bourgeois, or 
a parish 2)riest, he was equally desirous of making a 
favorable impression.^ The count knew the value of 
money as did his grandfather before him, and like 
many others he made his most successful speculations 
at the expense of the state. He succeeded in ex- 
changing his island of Belle Isle, which yielded 
twenty-seven thousand livres of rent, for govei-nment 
lands which yielded one hundred and twenty-seven 
thousand, and he received half a million in money be- 
sides.^ After the regent's death. Belle Isle was not 
in favor at court and was thrown into the Bastille, 
but he was soon released, and waited impatiently for 
an opportunity to satisfy a restless ambition. At last 
the occasion presented itself. In the discussions which 
followed the emperor's death. Belle Isle took a promi- 
nent part ; France, he said, must now see that a friend 
was chosen emperor, and that the dangerous power 
of Austria was forever destroyed ; this was the golden 
opportunity, success was certain, and the ruin of the 
House of Hapsburg inevitable. He was confident ; he 
was eloquent : his speech and bearing seemed to indi- 
cate a man fit for great enterprises. " He eats little, 
sleeps little, and thinks a great deal, rare qualities in 
France," said an observer.^ It was on every man's 
tongue that the policy advocated by Belle Isle must 
be the true policy to be pursued, and that the man to 
carry it into effect was Belle Isle himself. 

If Fleury's courage had equaled his sagacity, he 
would have put an end to such plans ; his influence 
over the king was still unimpaired, and Louis himself 

1 St. Simon, xvi. 166 et pas. * ^ Barbier, i. 332. 

8 Journal d'Argenson^ December 20, 1740. 


showed on this occasion the political sagacity he al- 
ways possessed, but which his indolence and indiffer- 
ence rendered useless to his kingdom. He declared 
that he would not interfere in the election of an em- 
peror. " I will keep my hands in my pockets," he 
said, " unless they should want to elect a Protestant." ^ 
It was certainly the wisest thing he could have done. 
But Fleury was too timid to confront all those who 
loudly advocated a vigorous policy, and the king was 
too indifferent to interfere ; he allowed his ministers 
to do as they saw fit, and contented himself with crit- 
icising their conduct. 

While uncertainty and confusion prevailed in the 
councils of Versailles, the invasion of Silesia by Fred- 
erick secured the victory of the war party. The first 
blow had been struck, the Pragmatic Sanction had 
been disregarded, the dismemberment of the posses- 
sions of the House of Austria had begun ; all now 
wished to join in the attack and share in the spoil. 
Spain and Saxony, the House of Savoy and the Elec- 
tor of Bavaria, were all advancing their claims upon 
the succession of Maria Theresa, and were preparing 
to enforce them. Fleury abandoned his efforts to 
stem the current ; propositions for an alliance came 
from Frederick, and they were favorably received. 
The cardinal complained bitterly and truthfully to the 
Austrian ambassador that he was driven to take a 
step of which he disapproved, and that his position 
was uncomfortable and miserable ; but, like Walpole 
in England at a similar crisis, he would neither resign 
nor try further to resist popular clamor. The ambas- 
sador reported to Maria Theresa that the French 
woidd certainly refuse to observe the conditions of the 
^ Mem. de Luynes, iii. 266. 


treaty of 1738.^ The queen wrote herself to Fleury, 
imploring him to be faithful to his agreements. " I 
wrote the cardinal," she said afterwards, " in terms 
that would have softened a rock." Fleury replied 
with his usual urbanity, but, despite his honeyed 
words, she saw that she could expect no help from 

The French might, without incurring any serious 
reproach, have continued on friendly terms with the 
queen, while declining to involve themselves in a long 
and expensive war to repel her enemies. When asked 
to furnish troops to assist in reconquering Silesia, the 
minister of foreign affairs replied that the guarantee 
of France was based upon the agreement of the other 
powers, and she could not be expected to go to war to 
enforce the good faith of her associates, nor had there 
been any provision as to what aid should be rendered, 
what number of troops should be put in the field to 
fight the battles of Maria Theresa.^ If the French 
had been willing to engage actively in her behalf, they 
could fairly have imposed terms for their assistance, 
and to them she woidd gladly have acceded. Repeat- 
edly during the war Maria Theresa offered to repay 
the aid of France by ceding additional territory to 
strengthen her eastern boundary. The folly by which 
such offers were declined, and the blood and money 
of the country wasted without chance of advantage, is 
the grievous offense of which French statesmen were 

1 Letter of Wasner to Maria Theresa, cited in Arneth, Ge- 
schichte Maria Theresias^ a most valuable book from the Austrian 
standpoint, as is Droysen's Geschichte des Preussischen Politiks 
for the Prussian authorities. 

2 Dis. Ven., 232, 360, conversation of Amelot with the Vene- 
tian ambassador. 


Instead of adopting a policy which would have been 
sagacious, and no more selfish than that of every other 
European power, it was decided to exert French influ- 
ence in opposition to Austria in the coming election of 
an emperor. In this course there was indeed nothing 
contrary to treaty obligations ; the French had never 
agreed to assist the husband of Maria Theresa in his 
candidacy, and they had promised to assist the Elector 
of Bavaria. But it was evident that France could not 
stop there ; to aid the elector in his endeavor to be 
chosen emperor necessarily involved an effort to sus- 
tain his claims upon the hereditary possessions of the 
House of Austria. No sooner had Belle Isle obtained 
Fleury's reluctant consent to use the influence of 
France in the election, than he wrung the old man's 
heart by showing that an army must be sent into Ger- 
many to sustain this position.^ Frederick disposed of 
the matter with his usual practical sagacity : " The 
cardinal is sadly deceived if he thinks he can succeed 
by negotiations. I tell you it is the strongest who 
will be emperor." ^ 

On March 4, 1741, Belle Isle left Paris as repre- 
sentative of France to the electoral college. Even in 
those days, rarely did an ambassador display the splen- 
dor with which Belle Isle dazzled the electors and 
princes whose aid he sought. He had 12 pages, 15 
secretaries, and 50 lackeys ; in the culinary depart- 
ment there were over 100 servants, for Belle Isle 
believed he could make converts to his cause by fur- 
nishing them unlimited good eating and good drink- 
ing. When he reached Frankfort there were covers 

1 MSS. Mem. de Belle Isle, i. 56. 

2 Ib.y i. 138 ; conversation between Frederick and Belle Isle. 


laid each day at his table for 80 or 100 guests, and 
rarely were there any vacant places.^ 

Such magnificence was not without effect on the 
three hundred sovereigns who made up the German 
empire, many of whom ruled over territories not ten 
leagues square, and whose revenues for a year were 
not as much as Belle Isle spent in a month. They 
admired the greatness and wealth of a power whose 
representative could indulge in a display far beyond 
the means of many hereditary rulers. But if France 
was admired and feared in Germany, she was not 
loved. For a century she had exerted a great influ- 
ence beyond the Rhine, and so sagacious had been the 
policy of Richelieu and Mazarin, that during their 
administration the German allies were for the most 
part in hearty sympathy with the great power which 
extended to them her protection. Under Louis XIV. 
this was no longer true. Partly by his religious big- 
otry, still more by his overbearing conduct, and by 
the outrages which he allowed his soldiers to commit, 
Louis alienated the friends of France. The prince- 
lets, who tried to imitate the splendors of Versailles, 
bore no love for its master. This feeling of sullen 
jealousy and irritation continued during the reign of 
Louis XV. " What hurts the Elector of Bavaria in 
the mind of all Germany," said Frederick to the French 
ambassador, " is his dependence on you." The lesser 
German princes resembled the king of Prussia alike 
in their adoption of French customs and their dislike 
of French procedure. They spoke the French lan- 
guage, they read French books, they wore French 
clothes, and they hated the French people. 

Notwithstanding this. Belle Isle's diplomatic mis- 
1 Mem. de LuyneSy iii. 308, 436 ; Belle Isle, iii. 260. 


sion was attended with success. Three of the electoral 
votes belonged to the archbishops of Cologne, Mentz, 
and Treves. These dignitaries were usually younger 
sons of great German families, who devoted their at- 
tention to the pleasures of the world, and to avoiding 
the hostility of more powerful neighbors. If they 
were not fond of France, they were much afraid of 
her, and the fortunes of Maria Theresa seemed to 
them involved in danger and uncertainty. Belle Isle 
in turn cajoled and threatened these timid princes. 
"You have sent Belle Isle here to scold me like a 
child," complained the Elector of Cologne, but he 
deemed it wise to follow the marshal's counsels. Prac- 
tical arguments were also used to influence the decision 
of the electors. They were generally needy and corrupt, 
and so were their advisers, and Belle Isle purchased 
all who were worth buying. In these little courts some 
subordinate official often held the confidence of the 
master, and was not to be overlooked in the distribu- 
tion of bribes. At Treves, in addition to money for 
the chancellor, Belle Isle promised a good abbey to the 
suffragan, and some moderate sums to the confessor 
and to the valet de chambre, the services of these two 
officials being estimated as of about equal value. 
" There will be a little to give the confessor," wrote the 
marshal, " that he may impress upon the elector's con- 
science the evils of the war that will be inevitable if 
the grand duke is chosen emperor." ^ Belle Isle was 
advised not to offer any stated sum of money to the 
chancellor, such was the delicacy of that official's feel- 
ings, so he promised him the protection of the French 
king in general terms, and left the details to be ar- 
ranged after wards. 2 

1 MSS. Mem. de Belle Isle, i. 64-67. « /j. 


With the Elector of Mentz the procedure was more 
simple. The elector was under the control of his 
nephew, and to the nephew Belle Isle offered to de- 
posit a million in bank as soon as his uncle should 
sign a written promise to vote for the candidate of 
France, the money to be paid over when the vote was 
given, for the episcopal agreement was not regarded 
as sufficient to justify payment before it was carried 
into effect. No modern election agent, buying votes 
at the polls, proceeds with more care than did the 
French ambassador, and there was as much need of 
caution with archbishops who were bought for a mil- 
lion, as there is with the riffraff who are purchased 
for a dollar ; the bribes were larger, and good faith 
was correspondingly weaker. The nephew demanded 
of Belle Isle absolute secrecy as to this bargain. " I 
assured him," writes the marshal, "that I would be 
more secret than the Austrian representative as to 
the hundred thousand florins which he had given." 
The nephew protested against this calumny, but ap- 
parently only as to the amount received. " The grand 
duke was not as liberal as that," he said.^ 

The fortunes of war produced a more disastrous 
effect on the grand duke's candidacy than French 
money or Belle Isle's arguments. The Austrians at 
last gathered an army in Silesia, and on April 10, 1741, 
the battle of Mollwitz was fought. The Prussians 
were successful, although Frederick himself abandoned 
the field as lost and fled to Oppeln, thii-ty-five miles 
away. The news of his success reached him in a mill 

1 Mem. de Belle Isle, i. 92, 3. These memoirs are merely 
transcripts of the letters written by Belle Isle at the time, and 
now at the Affaires Etrangeres. The former Duke of Lorraine 
was then Grand Duke of Tuscany. 


near Lbwen, in which he had sought shelter; he 
emerged, declared the wits, covered with flour and 
glory.i The result of the battle showed that vigorous 
drill and discipline had made the Prussian soldiers the 
best in Europe. They were as firm as rocks and as 
brave as lions, said one of their commanders, and the 
credit of this first great victory of the Prussian arms 
should be given to Frederick William. However eccen- 
tric his character, he had known how to create an army, 
and his son soon proved his ability to command it. 

The king had delayed making any alliance with 
France in the hope that the English could persuade 
Maria Theresa to cede him lower Silesia, but the queen 
of Hungary was obstinate, and the French were pliant, 
and on June 5, 1741, a treaty between France and 
Prussia was signed. The advantage was all on 
Frederick's side. Louis agreed to send an army to 
Germany ; he guaranteed to Prussia the possession of 
lower Silesia and Breslau, and all that he got in return 
was Frederick's promise to vote for the Elector of 
Bavaria as emperor. 

This alliance, however, rendered the choice of the 
elector almost certain ; usually the candidate of Aus- 
tria had received every electoral vote, now it seemed 
doubtful if he could obtain one. The three archbish- 
ops, Frederick, as Elector of Brandenburg, and the 
Elector of Saxony were already practically assured to 

^ Frederick was advised to leave the field in order to escape 
danger. The rapidity of his flight shows that he thought the 
battle was lost. Of most of his acts he speaks in his memoirs 
with entire frankness, but he makes no reference to this flight. 
It was Schwerin who advised Frederick to leave the field, 
and he declared afterwards that the king never forgave him. 
For the battle of Mollwitz see Griinhagen, Geschichte des ersten 
Schlesischen KriegSy 170-196. 


the French candidate; a successful campaign might 
gain him the support of the other electors. Belle Isle 
wrote exultingly to Fleury, " You will have the glory 
of having abased forever the rival and enemy of 
France." ^ But the old minister was not deceived ; he 
saw how little France could really gain from the pol- 
icy which he allowed to be pursued ; above all, almost 
alone among his associates, he put no faith in Freder- 
ick. The king did not spare fair words. " I promise 
you, you shall have no complaints on your side," he 
wrote, " and no reason to repent of your alliance. If 
I have asked time to decide, this delay will only serve 
to render my fidelity more inviolable." ^ But Fleury 
wrote to BeUe Isle, " The king of Prussia disturbs me 
more than any one else. Good faith and sincerity are 
not his favorite virtues ; he is false in everything, even 
in his compliments. I doubt if he will be faithful in 
his alliances, for he has no principle but his own in- 
terest." ^ The correctness of Fleury's judgment was 
soon shown ; in less than eight months from the time 
Frederick signed the treaty with France, he had made 
a secret bargain with Austria and left his allies to 
carry on the contest as best they could. 

It is now time to follow the career of the Elector 
of Bavaria, in whose behalf France had taken up 
arms. We shall find in him the exact reverse of Fred- 
erick's qualities, — perfect good faith and an entire 
lack of ability. Charles Albert succeeded to his father 
as Elector of Bavaria iu 1726, and was now a man 
forty-three years of age. He was amiable in charac- 

1 Belle Isle to Fleury, June 6, 1741. 

2 Pol. Cor., i. 251, 252, Frederick to Fleury and Belle Isle, 
May 30, 1741. 

« Fleury to Belle Isle, June 17, 1741. 


ter, infirm in purpose, with a weakness for pomp and 
a taste for titles ; he might have passed his life in 
happy insignificance in his electorate, but unwise am- 
bition brought him to an early grave with a broken 
heart. He had married a daughter of the Emperor 
Joseph, an older brother of Charles VI. ; on her 
marriage the electress renounced her claim on the 
Austrian succession, and this renunciation her hus- 
band never sought to evade. But the elector was 
himself a descendant of the daughter of the Emperor 
Ferdinand I., and the rights thus inherited he de- 
clared no Pragmatic Sanction could take away. His 
pretensions do not seem to have been well founded. 
The possessions of the House of Austria had been 
transmitted in the male line for almost two centuries 
since the death of Ferdinand, and when a male heir 
at last failed, the rights of the daughter of Charles 
VI. were better founded than those which were derived 
from a daughter of Ferdinand. But with the preten- 
sions of Charles Albert, as with those of Frederick II., 
it was not a question of right but of might. The 
elector had repudiated the Pragmatic Sanction in the 
lifetime of the emperor ; he now hoped to enforce his 
claims on the hereditary possessions of Charles VI., 
and, to gratify an ambition still dearer to his vanity, 
to wear the crown of Charlemagne and of the Holy 
Roman Empire. When the news of the emperor's 
death reached Munich, the elector felt that for him 
the hour of fate had sounded, and assurances of French 
support gave an air of reality to what had seemed 
only ambitious dreams. The alliance between France 
and Prussia soon followed, and in August, 1741, the 
French crossed the Rhine. A French army was rarely 
welcome on German soil ; but Fleury endeavored to 


arouse as little ill will as possible. Perfect discipline 
was maintained ; supplies were promptly paid for, 
a thing so rare that it excited surprise as well as 
pleasure ; ^ war was not declared against Austria ; the 
troops, Fleury said, came only to protect their ally, 
the Elector of Bavaria, against his enemies. The 
elector had already invaded Austria at the head of 
about twenty thousand Bavarians. He met with little 
resistance ; the Austrians had no army in the field, 
and the people were not averse to Charles Albert as 
a ruler ; Maria Theresa had as yet done nothing to 
excite the enthusiasm of her subjects, her husband's 
manners were chilly, his capacity was small, and he 
was not popular.2 In September the French joined 
the elector, and the united forces, consisting of about 
sixty thousand men, were put under his command. 

They could not have had a more indifferent leader. 
Charles Albert had no talent for war : he was timid, 
slow, and irresolute. " During two months," wrote 
Belle Isle, " the elector was never of the same mind 
for two days in succession." ^ The marshal was him- 
self the nominal commander of the French armies in 
Germany, but, with mistaken judgment, he thought 
it wise to watch the intrigues of the electoral college 
in person and to command the army by correspond- 
ence. There was delay in obtaining his orders, and 
between the presence of the elector and the absence 
of Belle Isle, the conduct of the campaign was irreso- 
lute and inefficient. 

At first, however, all went well. The elector sum- 
moned the citizens of Linz, the capital of Upper 

^ Maurice de Saxe to Belle Isle, August 23, 1741. 

2 Tagebuch, 19 et pas. ; Letters of Vincent ; Cor. de Vienne. 

8 Belle Isle to Breteuil, October 21, 1741. 



Austria, to receive him as their lawful sovereign. No 
opposition was offered ; he entered the city in triumph ; 
in a few days the whole province was overrun, and 
the allied armies were within three days' march of 
Vienna. That capital was almost defenseless, and it 
was expected that the enemy would at once advance 
upon it; many fled from the city, while others pre- 
pared for a siege as best they could, but against an 
army of sixty thousand men no long resistance was 
possible. Frederick wrote the elector urging him to 
attack his enemies while they were weak, and to march 
directly on Vienna. " March to the capital," he said ; 
"you cut the root of the Austrian tree, and its fall 
must follow." ^ It seemed as if the prophets were 
right, that the overthrow of the House of Austria 
would soon be accomplished, and its capital in the 
hands of a French army. But the courage of Maria 
Theresa and the inefficiency of Charles Albert saved 
Austria from ruin. The elector was afraid to advance 
to Vienna ; he was haunted by imaginary fears that the 
Austrians would invade Bavaria, and he preferred 
undertaking the conquest of Bohemia, of which he 
claimed to be the lawful sovereign.^ Meanwhile he 
amused himself with numerous pageants, and in receiv- 
ing the allegiance of his new subjects ; after wasting 

1 Pol Cor., i. 266; Frederick to elector, June 30, 1741. Vol- 
taire made the charge that the failure to advance on Vienna 
was due to Fleury, and this calumny has been often repeated. 
The accusation is utterly without foundation, as has been shown 
conclusively by the Due de Broglie. Belle Isle as well as the 
elector disapproved of the plan. " I have always opposed the 
king's desire for an advance on Vienna," Belle Isle writes the 
elector, October 23, 1741. 

2 Tagehuch KarVs Vll.y 23 ; Belle Isle to Amelot, August 25, 
October 4, 1741. 


most of September, the allied armies began their 
march to Bohemia, and the moment of greatest peril 
for Maria Theresa was past. 

In the mean time, she had been occupied with ex- 
citing the enthusiasm of her own subjects and in 
seeking to divide her enemies, and in both she was 
successful. In June, 1741, she was solemnly crowned 
at Presburg as queen of Hungary, and she appealed 
to the patriotism and to the courage of the warlike 
people of that country ; inspired by the heroism of 
their yoimg ruler, they promised to send to the field 
every man able to bear arms. 

The queen of Hungary was weU fitted to arouse the 
enthusiasm of an heroic people, for she could appeal 
to feelings which she herself shared ; but it was a diffi- 
cult and a painful task for her to sue for peace from 
those who had plotted her ruin. When Frederick 
first invaded Silesia the English advised the queen to 
sacrifice her resentment, and obtain peace on the terms 
he demanded ; she then replied that she would discuss 
no terms while a Prussian soldier remained on Sile- 
sian soil ; ^ but now Vienna was in danger of capture, 
Bavaria and Saxony had agreed upon a division of 
her dominions, which left her little more than the 
kingdom of Hungary, and it seemed not impossible 
that this alone would remain to her of the great pos- 
sessions of the House of Hapsburg. If she must pro- 
pitiate any of her enemies, Maria Theresa preferred 
to deal with France. Frederick had begun the attack, 
and the loss of Silesia exposed her other territories to 
invasion. She regarded her neighbor as an infidel, a 

^ This was said by the grand duke to the Prussian envoy, 
letter of Robiusou, December 21, 1740, published by Raumer, 
but Maria Theresa inspired the answer. 



liar, and a robber, and was unwilling to cede to him 
a foot of land. Overtures, however, were made both 
to France and to Prussia. The queen offered to cede 
Luxembourg to the French, the Low Countries to the 
Elector of Bavaria, and possessions in Italy to Spain, 
if she could obtain peace.^ If the French had been 
willing to leave their ally in the lurch, they could 
have made peace with Austria, and obtained a valu- 
able acquisition of territory. But they refused even 
to discuss terms except in connection with Frederick. 
" We are not free," Fleury wrote ; " we can enter into 
no negotiations except with our allies." 

The envoys for peace met with a very different 
reception from Frederick. Various endeavors had 
already been made to detach him from the alliance, 
but the terms offered were not such as he desired ; he 
was resolved to have lower Silesia and Breslau, and 
would abate nothing in his demands. So long as the 
offers were unsatisfactory, Frederick declared with 
vehemence that he would not desert his allies.^ " Tell 
Valori," he wrote Podewils in August, " that nothing 
in the world can draw me from my alliance with 
France." ^ 

"My engagements are so solemn, so indissoluble, and 
so inviolable," he told the English negotiator, " that I 
will not desert these faithful allies." * "It would be 
infamous for me to enter into negotiations with Aus- 

^ Instruktion fiir Koch, September 1, 1741, cited by Arneth, 
Cor. de Vienne, September, 1741, Aff. Etr. 

2 See terms offered by Robinson, August 7, 1741, Pol. Cor., i. 
297, and Frederick's response. 

^ Pol. Cor., i. 321. " Nichts in der Welt fahig mich von 
meiner Allianz mit Frankreich abzufuhren." 

* Pol. Cor., i. 333, 334, Frederick to Hyndford, September 
14, 1741, camp before Neisse. 


tria and England." ^ This was on September 14. A 
few days later, Maria Theresa at last decided that she 
must accede to Frederick's demands, cede lower Silesia, 
and demand only neutrality in return, and she author- 
ized the British envoy to make that offer. It was 
accepted at once. The " faithful allies " were neither 
considered nor consulted when an acceptable proposi- 
tion was made. By the last of September terms had 
been agreed upon ; a cartel was signed in October, 
providing that lower Silesia and Neisse should be 
ceded to Prussia when peace was made ; in return for 
this, Frederick agreed that he would preserve a strict 
neutrality, and that the Austrian army in Silesia 
might retire undisturbed, and hasten to the defense of 
Bohemia.2 Frederick was then besieging Neisse, and 
to deceive his allies it was agreed that a mock siege 
should be continued for fifteen days, at the end of 
which time the town was to surrender. He demanded 
also that his troops should go into winter quarters in 
upper Silesia. This remained Austrian territory, and 
the English envoy protested in amazement against a 
procedure which could only be justified if the parties 
continued at war. " I have the honor to inform you," 
Frederick's minister wrote, " that we desire very much 
to cease carrying on war, but we do not wish to aj)- 
pear to have ceased carrying it on." ^ The demand 
was acceded to, and it was agreed that the armistice 
should be kept secret. 

Having secured what he desired for himself, Fred- 
erick showed that he was free from any prejudice in 

1 Frederick to Hyudford. 

2 See mem. to Hyndford, September 28 ; Pol. Cor., i. 356, 
September 30, 359 ; Protokol, October 9, 371, 372. 

3 To Hyndford, September 30, Pol. Cor.f 359. 


favor of his nominal allies, or against his nominal 
enemies. Marshal Neipperg, the Austrian commander, 
paid a visit to the king. Frederick gave him judi- 
cious advice as to the campaign against his French and 
Bavarian allies, and assured him that if the armies of 
the queen of Hungary were fortunate, he might soon 
be found on her side.^ 

It was impossible that the existence of such an 
armistice should not be suspected, but Frederick 
spared no pains to convince his allies that he con- 
tinued faithful. On the day that he advised with 
Neipperg as to the best way to beat the Bavarians 
and French, he wrote Belle Isle praising the zeal with 
which France was assisting Bavaria. " It is reserved 
to Louis XV. to be the arbiter of kings, and to M. 
de Belle Isle to be the instrument of his power and 
wisdom," he added.^ The claws were hardly con- 
cealed in Frederick's caresses, and his compliments 
were most extravagant when he was acting in bad 

He continued to keep the allies fully advised as to 
the progress of the mock siege of Neisse. He in- 
formed the elector and Belle Isle that he found the 
siege more difficult than he expected.^ " I have so 
alarmed Neipperg," he wrote Fleury, "that he is 
marching night and day to gain the gorges of Jagern- 
dorf . ... I could not pursue him for lack of provi- 
sions."* At last he was able to report the capture of 
the city. " The bombs have done a terrible amount 

1 Dispatch of Hyndford, October 14, 1741, published in 
Raumer, Beitrdge, ii. 149, 150. 

2 Frederick to Belle Isle, October 9, 1741. 
« Pol. Cor., i. 377, 383. 

* Ih.y 392, Frederick to Fleury, October 29, 1741. 


of damage," he informed the Elector of Bavaria, and 
in the same letter he added, " I can assure you on my 
honor that I have made no peace with the Austrians, 
and I will not until you are satisfied."^ "We must 
render justice to the king of Prussia," wrote the 
simple-minded elector ; " no one could act with more 
frankness and good faith." ^ On the 1st of Novem- 
ber, three weeks after the convention of Kleinschnel- 
lendorf, Frederick signed a further treaty with his 
nominal allies, in which they agreed on the distribu- 
tion to be made of a large portion of the inheritance 
of Maria Theresa. 

While Frederick was occupied in making his own 
peace, and in lying with a vigor that was unusual 
even for him, the elector had marched into Bohemia, 
and by November his forces, now strengthened by a 
Saxon contingent, were before the walls of Prague. 
But the allies could no longer occupy the possessions 
of Maria Theresa without meeting serious opposition ; 
the Hungarians were hastening to her rescue, and the 
army under Neipperg, released from Silesia by the 
armistice with Frederick, was free to oppose the fur- 
ther advance of the elector. It seemed probable that 
the invaders would be obliged to retreat from Prague, 
but the city was captured by a daring assault led by 
Maurice de Saxe, who now began to show himself one 
of the great generals of the age. Maurice conceived 
the idea of scaling the walls with a small body of 
men, while the attention of the garrison was diverted 
by false attacks. The plan was proposed before a 
council of war, which at first decided that it was ab- 

1 Pol. Cor., 398, Frederick to elector, November 2, 1741. 

2 Elector to Belle Isle, October 9, 1741, Cor. de Bav. 



surd and impossible.^ But the forces of the queen 
of Hungary were hastening to the rescue of the city, 
and it was finally resolved to allow Maurice to make 
his experiment. At a little after twelve, in the 
darkness of a November night, ladders were placed 
against the walls at an unguarded spot, and up them 
the soldiers scrambled. The ladders were so short 
that they had to be tied together to reach the top, 
and some of them broke under the weight of the men. 
But a small body of soldiers succeeded in scaling the 
wall, overpowered the guards, threw open the gate, 
and let down the drawbridge; Maurice entered in 
triumph, and made himself master of the city before 
the garrison knew what had happened.^ " You de- 
sired Prague should be taken," he wrote Belle Isle, 
in French as incorrect as it was spirited ; " it is taken, 
the governor has surrendered to me, and I write from 
his chamber."^ 

Though the city was taken by assault, there was no 
disorder and no plundering. According to a popular 
tradition, some ladies returning from a ball were met 

^ The elector in his Tagebuch, 30, 2, 3, claims to have devised 
this scheme himself, and Maurice figures very little in his ac- 
count. Instead of wasting praise on Maurice he writes, " We 
cannot doubt that the Holy Virgin fortified me in this design 
and assisted me in the execution," p. 33. In a letter to Maurice 
of April 24, 1742, he says, however, "I already owe you the 
capture of Prague." 

2 An account of the capture of Prague is given in a letter 
written by Maurice and published by Taillendier. The official 
accounts are in the archives. A letter of the Duke of Chev- 
reuse, who took part in the assault, is found in Mem. de Luynes, 

^ Maurice de Saxe to Belle Isle, November 26, 1741. In an 
age of bad spelling, Maurice, of all writers whose letters have 
been preserved, spelled the worst. 


by French officers and politely escorted to their homes ; 
many of the citizens only discovered in the morning 
that the town had been captured. Military license was 
so common at this period that the fact that no rioting 
or pillage followed the capture of the city, that houses 
were not burned, women were not violated, and citi- 
zens were not murdered, excited almost as much sur- 
prise in Europe as the manner in which it had been 
taken. On the following day the elector entered the 
city and proceeded at once to the cathedral, where the 
Te Deum was sung ; the booming of distant cannon 
mingled with the voices of the choristers as they ren- 
dered thanks for the victory.^ 

The loss of this important town was a severe blow 
to the Austrian cause. The elector at once assumed 
to act as the lawful sovereign of Bohemia; on the 
19th of December the states met at Prague and 
recognized Charles Albert as their king. The states 
were largely attended, and his new subjects took the 
oath of allegiance with apparent zeal. Many, indeed, 
remained constant to the cause of Maria Theresa, but 
the majority of the Bohemians had no deep affection 
for the House of Austria, and cared little whether the 
queen of Hungary or the Elector of Bavaria was to 
be their rider.^ 

Other results of the capture of Prague were equally 
unfortimate for Maria Theresa. Frederick had told 
Marshal Neipperg that if good fortune attended the 
arms of his mistress he might soon be found on her 
side. She had met with calamity instead of victory, 
and the king now decided that it would be for his 

I interest again to throw in his lot with her enemies. 

1 Tagebuch KarVs VII. 

2 76., 36; Arneth, i. 344. 


Lord Hyndford had negotiated the armistice in Octo- 
ber, and in December he visited Frederick in order 
to carry out the prior agreement and convert the ar- 
mistice into a permanent treaty. He soon found that 
the king had no thought of abiding by the bargain 
of October. " I will speak frankly with you," said 
Frederick ; " the Austrians have let Prague be taken 
under their noses, without risking a battle. If they 
had been fortunate, I don't know what I should have 
done. Now we have one hundred and thirty thousand 
men to their seventy thousand ; they may make peace 
as best they can." ^ 

For this breach of his agreement the Prussian king 
alleged that he had a justification : he had insisted 
that the armistice of October should be kept secret ; 
this had not been done, and hence he was no longer 
bound. It was impossible that it would remain secret ; 
the peaceful retreat of Neipperg had convinced all 
Europe that some arrangement had been made be- 
tween Frederick and Maria Theresa ; when the exist- 
ence of the armistice was known to innumerable diplo- 
mats and officers, both Austrian and English, some of 
them were sure to make it public. The Austrian 
historians charged Frederick with consenting to the 
protocol in order to obtain a respite for his soldiers, 
and imposing an impossible condition of secrecy as 
a pretext for its violation when he should again be 
ready for hostilities. This accusation is probably un- 
just. Frederick agreed to the armistice, not with any 
fixed purpose of violating it, but with the intention 
of keeping it or not as his interests should require. 
After the capture of Prague he decided that it would 

^ Report of Hyndford, published by Raumer, Beilrage zur 
neueren Geschichte, ii. 153-155. 


not be to his advantage to make peace at present. 
" Trickery, bad faith, and duplicity are unfortunately 
the characteristics of most men who are now at the 
head of nations," Frederick wrote sadly to Voltaire, 
after he had a second time taken up arms against 
Maria Theresa.^ 

1 Frederick to Voltaire, February 3, 1742. 



As a result of the capture of Prague the Elector of 
Bavaria was declared king of Bohemia, and this vic- 
tory secured him a crown which he coveted still more. 
Several months had passed since the members of the 
electoral college began to assemble at Frankfort for 
the election of a new emperor, but the body proceeded 
with the deliberation which befitted its dignity, and 
questions of etiquette and procedure were discussed at 
infinite length. The electors had one matter of real 
importance to consider, and that was the vote of 
Bohemia. The king of Bohemia was entitled to one 
of the nine electoral votes ; but this privilege, it was 
held, could not be exercised by a woman, and Maria 
Theresa sought to transfer her right to her husband. 
Not only was the legality of this questioned, but the 
Elector of Bavaria claimed that he was now the law- 
ful ruler of that country, and he had justified his title 
by capturing the capital of the kingdom; in such a 
complication as this the electors resolved that the vote 
of Bohemia must be regarded as in abeyance, and 
could not be received at all. 

Months passed away, and Belle Isle tried in vain 
to hasten an election, which he felt sure would result 
in favor of the candidate of France. It was Novem- 
ber before the college formally convened, and even 
then its members were in no haste to reach a decision. 
In truth, the choice of an emperor was not to be 


decided at the conferences of the electors, but on 
the field of battle; as Frederick had said, the impe- 
rial crown would go to the strongest. The capture 
of Prague settled the question; even the stanchest 
friends of Maria Theresa were convinced that her 
cause was lost ; the House of Austria, said one of the 
most sagacious of German princes, had been stricken 
by the hand of God, and was doomed to ruin.^ There 
was no pretext for further delay ; the 24th of Janu- 
ary, 1742, was fixed as the date of the election, and 
there could now be no doubt of its result. 

But the situation might change, and the friends of 
Bavaria were earnest that there should be postpone- 
ment. It was in vain that the partisans of Maria The- 
resa declared that a few months would alter the position 
of affairs, and that any proceedings taken now would 
be plainly invalid, alike because the vote of Bohemia 
was illegally excluded, and because there could be no 
free and fair election while foreign armies were in the 
heart of the empire ; the influence of France was pre- 
dominant, and such protests were disregarded. 

The danger of delay was not entirely averted, for 
only a few days before the time fixed for the election, 
a fierce controversy arose over the manner in which 
the electors' chairs should be placed in the church, 
and the order in which those dignitaries should march 
at the coronation. 2 So bitter was the dispute that 
it bade fair to cause a postponement, but by dint of 
unceasing effort Belle Isle soothed the susceptibili- 
ties of these punctilious sovereigns, and it was at last 
certain that on the 24th an emperor would be chosen. 

1 Conversation with the Bishop of Wiirzburg given by Belle 
Isle, MSS. Mem., iii. 215. 
a Ih., iii. 232. 


If the action of the electoral college was really 
under constraint, the forms were carefully observed 
which the law declared necessary for a free choice. 
French armies were within the confines of the em- 
pire ; three of the electors were waging war against 
one of the candidates, but no physical violence threat- 
ened the members of the college as they met to de- 
liberate in the chamber of the Romer, or to cast 
their votes in the chapel of St. Bartholomew. On 
January 23, trumpeters warned all strangers to leave 
the city, that the election on the following day might 
be free from foreign influence. Belle Isle and the 
other ambassadors accordingly retired beyond the 
walls ; the gates were locked ; the Jews were confined 
in their quarter; the officials took a solemn oath to 
preserve order. 

On the following day the eight electors, or their 
representatives, met in the church of St. Bartholo- 
mew to cast their votes for Emperor of the Holy Ro- 
man Empire. The election was unanimous. Bran- 
denburg, Saxony, and Bavaria were united in arms 
against Austria; .the three ecclesiastical electors and 
the Palatine had joined the stronger party; even 
George II. of England had agreed to desert the inter- 
ests of Maria Theresa, in order to save Hanover from 
invasion by the French. At noon, amid the firing of 
cannon and the ringing of bells, heralds appeared on 
the walls of the city and proclaimed to the world 
without that Charles, Duke of Bavaria, had been 
duly chosen king of the Romans. As the electors 
came from the church, the grand marshal of the em- 
pire was at once dispatched to notify Charles of the 
result ; he rode in hot haste, accompanied by twenty- 
four postilions; just before midnight he reached the 


elector and greeted him with his new title as king of 
the Romans. 1 

Charles kept a diary, in which he recorded his 
joys, his griefs, and his vanities with the frankness 
of Pepys, and by the aid of this we can follow the 
career of this weak, honorable, and most unfortunate 
prince. The announcement of his elevation filled the 
vainglorious elector with joy; a week later he made 
his entry into Frankfort with a magnificence which 
he tells us had never been equaled.^ 

Charles had a strong taste for display, which unfor- 
tunately did not correspond with the low condition of 
his finances, and the French envoy tried in vain to 
prevent him from squandering all his ready money on 
the pageantry of his coronation. 

On the 12th of February, 1742, he was crowned 
with all the splendor which he could desire. "The 
preparations for the great ceremony," he writes, "were 
more than magnificent ; one saw in them the grandeur 
of a Roman emperor."^ Sixty princes of the em- 
pire assisted at the ceremony, and the most illustrious 
nobles paid their homage. Mounted on his horse, 
Charles proceeded through the streets of Frankfort; 
the ensigns of the empire were carried before him, 
accompanied by the ofiicials of the city; the electors 
followed on horseback, gorgeous in their scarlet man- 
tles trimmed with ermine, with cloaks that seemed 
made of gold, and hats of an antique fashion sur- 
mounted by plumes of extraordinary size ; it seemed 
as if the splendor of the Middle Ages had returned to 
earth ; the long procession of nobles and officials, clad 

1 For this see letters of Belle Isle to Amelot 
a Tagebuch Karl's VII., 49. 
8 lh.y 61. 


in all the gorgeousness of the past, continued until 
the eye was wearied with a surfeit of color. 

When they reached the cathedral, Charles was met 
at the door by the ecclesiastical electors ; he was 
clothed in the imperial dress, which, he tells us with 
satisfaction, fitted him as if it had been made for 
him.i His brother, the Elector of Cologne, placed the 
crown on his head, and he was seated upon the throne 
amid the acclamations of a great multitude crying, 
"Long live Charles the Seventh. "^ "The eyes of all 
the world were turned upon me," writes Charles. "I 
had to sustain the greatness of the dignity with which 
I was invested, and also the length of the ceremony 
and the pains of gravel from which I was suffering. 
It was in these moments of grandeur that I perceived 
I was only a frail man. Seeing myself thus at the 
supreme degree of human greatness, I could but re- 
flect on the might of God, who does not wish that we 
should forget we are his creatures, even when He 
elevates us to the greatest height." 

There was indeed much to remind the new emperor 
that he was human and subject to the misfortunes of 
humanity; he was suffering from disease, and the 
calamities in store for him were already beginning. 
But for a few hours such melancholy reflections were 
banished. In the evening the city was illuminated, 

1 Goethe says a new dress, of the model of that worn by 
Charlemagne, was made for each emperor. Charles seems to 
have regarded his as the one actually worn by his great prede- 

2 Correspondance de Diet, AJf. Etr., Letters of Belle Isle to 
Amelot; Tagehuch KarVs VII., 48-57; Sophie dePrusse, 
ii. 33 et seq. The best description of the ceremonies at the elec- 
tion and consecration of an emperor is given by Goethe in his 
Wahrheit und Dichtung. 


and the various dignitaries vied with one another in 
the magnificence of the festivities with which they 
celebrated the great event. Belle Isle had for weeks 
kept open house and entertained on a lavish scale. 
Such hospitality was expensive, he wrote the secretary 
for foreign affairs, but exceedingly beneficial in its 
results. 1 On the day of the coronation he gave a 
supper at which two hundred were entertained, almost 
all princes or princesses, for in Germany the supply 
of such dignitaries was unlimited. This was followed 
by a masked ball, at which the son and the daugh- 
ters of the emperor danced until three, while Charles 
was in despair that an attack of gout kept him 
away. 2 At the marriage of his brother a few days 
before, this resolute pleasure -seeker had been pushed 
in a rolling chair by two chamberlains, and had 
thus followed the figures of a polonaise danced 
by torchlight, but he could not repeat such efforts 

Charles was wise to derive the utmost enjoyment 
possible from his new splendor while he could, for 
his election marked the close of his prosperity. It 
soon appeared how empty was the dignity to which 
he had been chosen, but the illusion that hung about 
his office deceived men of more political sagacity than 
himself. The choice of the Elector of Bavaria as 
emperor had been the object of French policy since 
the death of Charles VI. ; Belle Isle had remained at 
Frankfort instead of joining the army, because the 
intrigues of the electors were thought as important as 
victories in the field; he now wrote Louis that the 
result of the election secured the repose of his king- 

1 Belle Isle to Araelot, January 26, 1742. 

2 Ih., February 12, 15, 1742. 


dom and covered his reign with glory. "You have 
accomplished the most important work of centuries," 
he wrote to Fleury, "in destroying the House of Aus- 
tria, and obtaining the crown of emperor for a friend 
of France." ^ The ambassador knew that the cardinal 
cared as much for thrift as for glory, and he hastened 
to assure him that no emperor had ever secured his 
election with a smaller expenditure of money. ^ The 
belief was almost universal, even among those who at 
heart were friendly to Maria Theresa, that her cause 
had received a serious blow from the result of the 
election, and that her antagonist would gain in pres- 
tige and strength from his new dignity.^ 

The course of events proved how fallacious was 
such reasoning. Charles VII. could not command 
an additional soldier nor a florin more on the day 
after he had been consecrated emperor; the electors 
who had chosen him for their nominal chief had no 
thought of risking their fortunes in his behalf. For 
centuries the electoral princes had sought to secure 
their own independence and to prevent the growth 
of a central and controlling power, and as the result 
of such a policy the emperor had become little more 
than a gorgeous pageant ; the empire helped to disin- 
tegrate rather than to unify Germany. 

The day of Charles's election witnessed the first 
important success of the arms of Maria Theresa. 
Since her people had rallied to her support, the 
armies of the queen had been strengthened until she 
could contend with her enemies almost on equal 
terms, and she resolved upon an effort to rescue 

1 Belle Isle to Fleury, January 24, 1742. 
^ lb. to Amelot, January 25, 1742. 
« Ih.y Mem., iii. 253, 7 et pas. 


Upper Austria. Sixteen thousand men, under the 
command of Marshal Khevenhiiller, advanced upon 
Linz, the capital of the province, which was garri- 
soned by French and Bavarian soldiers commanded 
by Count Segur. Maria Theresa was inferior in in- 
tellect to her great rival Frederick, but she had the 
qualities which excite strong enthusiasm, and they 
rendered her no unequal foe. The whole energy of 
her nature was bent upon the capture of Linz. Vic- 
tory there would deliver Austria from the presence of 
hostile armies ; it would lay Bavaria open to invasion ; 
it would be a turning-point in her fortunes. She sent 
a letter to Khevenhiiller with a picture of herself and 
of her son. "Here you see," she wrote, "a queen 
and her son who have been deserted by all the world. 
What shall be this child's fate? Its mother confides 
to you, as a faithful minister, her strength and her 
power. Act then, O hero and true vassal, as you 
must answer before God and the world, and you will 
deserve from me and my successors favor and grati- 
tude and grace, and from the world fame. Fight well 
and farewell!"^ The letter was received while the 
officers were at their mess. Khevenhiiller rose and 
read it aloud before those present. There were tears 
in every eye ; the voice of the field marshal was choked 
by his emotions ; the officers rose from their seats and 
swore that their lives and their property they would 
sacrifice in the defense of Maria Theresa. Her por- 
trait was exhibited to the soldiers; they drew the 
swords from their scabbards, kissed the edges, and 
blew kisses to the picture of the queen. 

While the assailants were animated by such enthu- 
siasm, the defenders of the town were dispirited and 
^ Letter of Maria Theresa, published by Arneth, ii. 9. 


discouraged. There seemed no prospect of receiving 
reinforcements; Marshal Broglie was in command of 
the army at Prague ; he needed his forces for his own 
protection, and could furnish none for the relief of 
Linz ; the Bavarian troops, under the inefficient com- 
mand of Torring, were unable to be of any aid. 
After a brief bombardment, Segur offered to sur- 
render if he could obtain honorable terms; if those 
were not granted, he declared that he would remain 
in Linz until there was nothing left of the city but 
ruins. ^ It was a threat easy to accomplish; the city 
was largely built of wood, already considerable por- 
tions had been destroyed by fire, and the citizens 
were in despair at the prospect of a long siege. The 
Austrian commander was loath to witness the de- 
struction of the capital of Upper Austria and the 
suffering this would bring to subjects of the queen ; 
he consented that the troops under Segur 's command 
might evacuate Linz with the honors of war, upon 
their agreement not to serve for a year against Ma- 
ria Theresa. On January 24, the day the electoral 
college chose the Elector of Bavaria as emperor, 
eight thousand French and Bavarians marched out of 
Linz, and that city returned to its former allegiance. 
Upper Austria was lost to the new emperor as rap- 
idly as it had been won. Had the electors known of 
the fate of Linz, they would have hesitated before 
casting their votes for an enemy of Austria ; but in 
those days news traveled slowly, and Charles VII. 
had been chosen before the change in his fortunes 
could be announced ; his lot would have been a hap- 
pier one if the intelligence had reached Frankfort in 
time to prevent his election. 

' S^gur to Belle Isle, January 30, 1742. 


The capture of Linz excited great exultation at 
Vienna; but one person was dissatisfied, and that 
person was the queen. Her feelings were more bit- 
ter than those of her generals; it grieved her that 
any terms had been granted the French ; her indig- 
nation against the invaders of her domains would 
only have been appeased if she could have seen them 
marching before her as prisoners of war, expiating 
in captivity and disgrace the wickedness of their 

If the terms of the capitulation were unsatisfac- 
tory to the queen, the results were all that she could 
desire. Not only was Upper Austria restored, but 
Bavaria was open to invasion. The subjects of the 
Elector of Bavaria had regarded with apprehension 
the warlike plans of their ruler. They had already 
experienced the evils which flowed from the imquiet 
ambition of the House of Bavaria, and from its jeal- 
ousy of Austrian supremacy. In the war of the 
Spanish Succession the Elector of Bavaria was the 
ally of Louis XIV. ; he had been chased from his 
dominions; for ten years Bavaria had been held by 
Austrian troops and been subjected to all the misery 
that results from occupation by hostile armies. Since 
then it had enjoyed the blessings of peace under the 
mild rule of its dukes, until Charles, allured by the 
hope of wresting the imperial crown from the House 
1^^ of Austria, and stimulated by the offer of French 
^B assistance, followed his father's example and involved 
his coimtry in the vicissitudes of war. The peace- 

I loving inhabitants of Bavaria had no desire that their 
ruler should also be emperor and king of Bohemia, 
and they justly feared that Charles's unwise ambition 
1 Arneth, ii. 11. 


would bring upon the land all the misfortunes which 
it had suffered under his father. These gloomy ap- 
prehensions were now realized; the Austrians occu- 
pied the whole of Bavaria, practically without oppo- 
sition; the scanty resources of the elector had been 
lavished on a wasteful magnificence ; his troops were 
ill paid, ill disciplined, and ill officered, and thus 
could offer no effective resistance. ^ On the day that 
Charles was crowned emperor the Austrians entered 
Munich, his family were obliged to fly, all of Bavaria 
fell under the control of the enemy, and it was treated 
as a conquered province. 

In the mean time, while the allies were fresh from 
their triumph at Prague, and before this series of 
calamities had begun, Frederick had broken his truce 
with Maria Theresa, and he led into Moravia an army 
chiefly composed of Saxons and French. His plans 
seem to have been ill advised, and no important re- 
sults followed. 

The king soon returned to Berlin, discontented 
with his allies, alarmed at the success of Maria The- 
resa in Bavaria, and very ill at ease that he had 
again involved himself in a war where there was now 
little hope of additional gains, and in which he had 
won no additional laurels. 

It was more than a year since Frederick's invasion 
of Silesia had kindled the war for the dismemberment 
of the Austrian empire ; though the moment of great- 
est peril for Maria Theresa had passed, yet the result 
of the war was still uncertain. France, Prussia, Sax- 
ony, and Bavaria were allied ; they had agreed that, 
of the possessions of Maria Theresa, Silesia should 
be taken by Prussia, Bohemia and Upper Austria by 
1 MSS. Mem. de Belle Isle, iv. 345. 


Bavaria, and Moravia by Saxony,^ and they were still 
in jx)ssession of large parts of the disputed territory ; 
if they continued the war with vigor, Austria might 
cease to be one of the great powers of Europe. It 
was Frederick who had involved Maria Theresa in a 
contest that threatened her ruin ; it was Frederick's 
desertion of his allies that insured her final victory. 

The king of Prussia was greatly annoyed at the 
result of his expedition into Moravia, where he had 
gained neither glory nor advantage; his allies, with 
good cause, distrusted him, and he, with equally good 
cause, complained of the blunders and the incapacity 
of their generals. He manifested his discontent by 
an unusual displa}^ of ill nature: he was irritable and 
despondent. "The expression of his face," wrote the 
French ambassador, "was that of a lost soul."^ Ap- 
prehensive of the future and displeased with his asso- 
ciates, Frederick resolved to make peace and secure 
his gains. "I need peace at once," he wrote Pode- 
wils; "no general peace will be as advantageous to 
me as to make a separate treaty."^ It had been 
agreed that the allies should act together in any nego- 
tiations, and Frederick knew full well that his deser- 
tion would leave his associates in grievous plight; 
no one judged the political and military situation 
with more unerring accuracy. The probable results 
of his secession furnished him a strong argimient in 
obtaining what he wanted for himself. If Maria 
Theresa would cede Silesia to him, he told the Eng- 
lish envoy, she coidd save Bohemia, Moravia, and 

^ Such were substantially the terras of the treaty signed in 
November, 1741. 

2 Valori to Amelot, April 25, 1742. 

3 Pol. Car., ii. 98, 119. 


Upper Austria for herself. ^ These were the prov- 
inces which, by a treaty signed in November, he had 
agreed to secure for Saxony and Bavaria, but this 
consideration did not affect him. He hated the Sax- 
ons, and regarded the emperor as an imbecile. To 
any charge of bad faith he had the answer which he 
has made in his memoirs, — "Is it better that a 
nation should perish, or that a prince should break 
his promise?"^ 

In a paper intended for his own use, Frederick 
balanced the reasons for and against making a sepa- 
rate peace. In the memoirs which he prepared for 
posterity, he sought to excuse his conduct by charging 
the French with bad faith, but in discussing the 
matter with himseK he was frank. "It is not well 
to violate one's word without cause," he wrote, "and 
thus far I have had no reason to complain of France 
or of my allies. One gains the reputation of ' a 
changeable man and a trifler if he does not execute 
the projects he has formed, and if he often passes from 
one side to the other. "^ But the arguments in favor 
of deserting his allies addressed themselves more 
strongly to Frederick's mind. The French tactics 
were bad, he wrote, and their armies would probably 
be defeated; in working for Saxony he was helping 
to make a neighbor more powerful, and, he added, 
in a tone of offended morality which is very rare in 
his secret papers, a neighbor that was treating the 
House of Austria, with ingratitude. The war was 
expensive, he continued, and the reverses of fortune 

1 Pol Cor., ii. 127. 

2 Hist, de mon temps, i. 6. 

* "Expos^ des raisons que je puis avoir pour rester dans 
Talliance de France." 


might cause him to lose what he had gained up to 
that point. ^ 

In pursuance of such views his minister, Konig- 
gratz, intimated to Lord Hyndford that if Frederick 
could have Silesia, and reasonable satisfaction were 
given his allies, he was willing to make peace. ^ The 
English negotiator at once objected to anything for 
the allies, and he was informed that this condition 
would not be insisted upon.^ But while Frederick 
was willing that his allies should have nothing, he 
was resolved to obtain Silesia for himself, and his 
advances were coldly received. Maria Theresa was 
reluctant to yield anything when fortune was darkest, 
and she protested against any concessions when the 
prospect seemed brighter. The English negotiator 
was discouraged by the summary manner in which 
Frederick had violated the armistice of October, and 
hesitated about making any other agreement. What 
hold could there be, wrote Hyndford, on a prince who 
was without truth and honor and religion?* Not 
only was Maria Theresa unwilling to agree on terms, 
but she said also that it was useless to treat with 
Frederick, because he would be bound by no promise ; 
she would indeed consent to cede Silesia, but only on 
the condition that Frederick shoidd actually furnish 
an army for her assistance, and declare war upon his 
former allies. "He cannot object to this," she said, 
with sarcastic reference to the zeal he had expressed 
for the welfare of Germany; "this will secure for him 

1 Pol Car., ii. 98-100. 

2 lb., ii. 84. 

3 lb., ii. 84 et seq. Report of interview with Podewils, pub- 
lished by Griinhagen. 

* Dispatch of May 17, 1742; Raiimer, Beitrdge, ii. 158. 



the glory of being the liberator of his country and 
the restorer of public tranquillity." ^ 

It was not for such ends that Frederick intended 
to involve himself in further warfare, but he recog- 
nized the fact that distrust of his word was an obsta- 
cle to obtaining the peace he sought. As he never 
endeavored to deceive himself about his modes of 
procedure, so his feelings were not hurt by the un- 
favorable views which his neighbors formed of them. 
"An obstacle to any treaty," he wrote Podewils, "is 
the suspicion of the court of Vienna that we shall 
treat them after the peace as we did after the pro- 
tocol of Schnellendorf."2 "You must assure the 
English ambassador that we will not break our 
engagements," he told his minister, but the effort 
was not successful, and Maria Theresa refused to offer 
satisfactory terms. 

The only way for Frederick to obtain peace was 
to show once more how dangerous was his hostility. 
"The queen of Hungary has made every offer and 
proposition to detach me from the alliance," he wrote 
Fleury, after she had refused to accede to the terms 
which he himself had proposed, "but it is trouble 
wasted. The only thing to do at present is to act 
cordially together."^ But while preparing to try 
again the chances of battle, he bade his minister con- 
tinue his relations with Hyndford, in order to have 
"a back staircase which we can use in case of fire."* 

On the 17th of May, 1742, he encountered the 
Austrian army at Chotusitz, and after a hard-fought 

^ Mem. pour Robinson, April 30, 1742, cited by Arneth. 

2 Frederick to Podewils, April 21, 1742. 

8 lb. to Fleury, March 15 and May 14, 1742. 

* Pol. Cor.y ii. 133. 


battle, in which eight thousand men fell, Frederick 
gained a decisive victory. He did not pursue the de- 
feated army ; he wished to show Maria Theresa that 
her generals could not contend against his genius, and 
he did not wish to weaken her forces unnecessarily. ^ 

The lesson was learned, and the queen consented 
to follow the advice of her English friends and make 
peace with Frederick. The conditions were soon 
agreed upon; in June, 1742, the treaty of Breslau 
was signed, and by it practically all of Silesia, to- 
gether with Glatz, was ceded to Prussia. Frederick 
agreed to abandon his allies, and to remain neutral 
in the war between them and Austria. ^ 

The province for which Frederick had struggled 
with such ability and such bad faith was at last his, 
and it greatly increased the power of the Prussian 
kingdom. Twenty years before, Prussia had counted 
for no more than Saxony or Bavaria; now, no one 
disputed her place as one of the great powers of 
Europe. Frederick was justly triumphant, and there 
was much exultation at Berlin over the happy termi- 
nation of the war. 

Though Frederick's desertion of his allies was the 
salvation of Maria Theresa, the sacrifice by which she 
had bought her peace rankled in her mind. The 
fairest jewel in her crown was gone, she said; she 
could not see a Silesian without bursting into tears. ^ 

There was no longer any reason for concealment, 

' To annihilate the defeated army of Prince Charles " lag in 
des Kouigs Hand ; es lag nicht in seiner Absicht," says Droysen, 
Frederick's most enthusiastic eulogist, i. 452. 

^ The preliminaries were signed at Breslau, the final treaty 
at Berlin. 

^ Dispatch of Robinson, cited by Raumer. 


and when the French ambassador asked Frederick to 
furnish troops for the relief of Prague, he declined 
the request. "I will speak to you frankly," said the 
king; "affairs are in a desperate condition. I am 
endeavoring to make peace for myself."^ "In the 
bitterness of my heart," he wrote Fleury, "I have 
been obliged to save myself from inevitable shipwreck 
and gain the port as best I could. "^ The bitterness 
of his heart he expressed to Podewils in a different 
fashion. "It is a grand and happy result that puts 
this house in possession of one of the most flourish- 
ing provinces of Germany. One should stop at the 
right moment: to force fortune is to lose it;" and 
he expressed to his minister a just confidence in his 
ability to retain his conquests. "My security," he 
wrote, "is founded on a good army, a full treasury, 
and strong fortresses."^ 

Frederick had also to announce the unpleasant 
intelligence to the unfortunate emperor. " If my 
sword can no longer serve you, my pen shall," he 
told him, and, with a refinement of sarcasm, he bade 
Charles VII. to have a special care of his person, 
and to remember that the safety of the empire de- 
pended on his life.* "This was a deadly blow," the 
poor emperor noted in his diary, when he was in- 
formed of the treaty of Breslau. To all his former 
allies the king now gave the judicious but unpalatable 
advice that they should make peace on the best terms 
they could get.^ 

1 Valori to Amelot, June 11, 1742. 
^ Frederick to Fleury, June 18. 
3 Pol. Cor., ii. 197, 213. 

* Frederick to emperor, June 18 and July 5. 

* Ih. to Fleury, June 13, 1742; to emperor, same date. 


It has been repeatedly said that Fleury was nego- 
tiating with Austria, and that a letter of his was 
shown Frederick and determined him to make a sepa- 
rate peace. Often as the statement has been made, 
there is not a scrap of evidence to sustain the charge. 
No such letter has ever been found ; Frederick would 
have been pleased to furnish such an excuse for his 
conduct, but he never asserted that such a letter was 
shown him.^ In his memoirs he has stated in general 
terms that he had reason to believe that the French 
were acting in bad faith, but in his private memo- 
randa he recorded alike the truth and his own belief. 
"The affairs. of Germany are in such a condition that 
the cardinal cannot abandon them without losing his 
credit in Europe, and having another war on his 
hands still more disastrous. " ^ "I defy the queen of 
Hungary to make a separate peace with France," he 
wrote to Podewils.^ Frederick made no attempt to 
reproach his allies with bad faith when he announced 
his own defection ; he contented himself with saying 
that the force of events had compelled him to take 
this step ; he was their superior in duplicity as much 
as in ability. 

The news of Frederick's desertion carried dismay 
to all his former allies, but especially to the French. , 
Their policy in Germany had been based upon the 

^ The falsity of this story, circulated by Frederick's admirers 
and repeated by historians without examination, has been con- 
clusively shown by the Due de Broglie in his Frederic II. et 
Marie Therese. The series of books which the Due de Broglie 
has published on the war of the Austrian Succession are models of 
historical writing: they are scholarly, judicious, and interesting. 

2 « Expose des raisons que je puis avoir pour rester dans 
I'alliance de France." 

^ Frederick to Podewils, June 8, 1742. 


Prussian alliance ; it was with the help of the Prus- 
sian army that they hoped to extend the dominions of 
the House of Bavaria, and to destroy the predomi- 
nance of the House of Austria.^ Relying upon Fred- 
erick's cooperation, the French armies had penetrated 
into Bohemia, more than a month's march from their 
own frontiers; deserted by their ally, they found 
themselves in a condition of great peril. 

Frederick's conduct was not a surprise to all. 
Fleury had always distrusted the king and disap- 
proved of the war. Belle Isle, on the other hand, the 
chief advocate of the policy which had been adopted, 
had been Frederick's earnest admirer; he had ar- 
ranged the terms of the alliance between France and 
Prussia; he now saw with consternation his great 
political combination threatened with ruin by Prus- 
sia's withdrawal from it. Not only was the outlook 
gloomy, but the treaty of Breslau worked a disastrous 
change in his own position. For a while he had been 
before the eyes of all Europe ; he had filled the great 
role of an emperor maker; he had been extolled by 
his countrymen as a man of new ideas and original 
genius, arising among a host of political mediocrities. 
But in the dejection which followed Frederick's deser- 
tion, what had been extolled as a policy of genius 
was denounced as a policy of adventure ; the emperor 
maker became a political charlatan, whose rashness 
had involved France in serious danger, and upon 
whose credulity Frederick had played to advance his 
own ends. 2 

1 See this stated in letters of Belle Isle to Amelot. 

^ " Nous n'aurions jamais commened cette guerre si nous 
n'avions comptd sur I'alliance du roi de Prusse." Amelot to 
Vaur^al, February 3, 1743, Cor. d'Esp. 


The counsels of Belle Isle were no longer potent at 
Versailles, and Fleury was eager for peace on any 
terms. Unfortunately, he had excited the animosity 
of an antagonist who never forgave a wrong, who 
was as warlike as he was peaceful, who believed her 
cause to be that of religion and justice, and who 
wished to visit upon France the vengeance which she 
had been unable to inflict upon Frederick. 

Saxony promptly followed Prussia's example, and 
the elector obtained peace by abandoning his claims 
on the Austrian Succession. But the advances made 
by France were received in a different spirit. Belle 
Isle was instructed to seek an interview with the 
Austrian general, and to rescue the French army at 
Prague from its perilous position on the best terms 
he could obtain. To beg for peace was a distasteful 
task for one who had hoped to overthrow the power 
of Austria. "Of all the sacrifices I have made for 
the king," he wrote, "nothing has cost me as much 
as my interview with Marshal Konigsegg." The 
unwelcome duty was made more disagreeable by the 
contemptuous indifference with which the Austrians 
received these overtures. 

Belle Isle offered to abandon Bohemia if Bavaria 
were restored to the emperor, but Maria Theresa had no 
thought of letting her enemies escape on such terms. 
She wished to hold Bavaria to punish the emperor, 
and she wished for the unconditional surrender of the 
army at Prague to punish the French ; she must have 
indemnity for the past and security for the future, and, 
in short, Konigsegg said that he was not prepared to 
state any terms on which peace could be made.^ 

1 Belle Isle to Amelot, July 26, 1742; Konigsegg to Belle 
Isle, July 31, 1742. 


The overbearing conduct of Austria plunged Fleury 
in despair; he made a last effort to smooth the way 
for a reconciliation, but he succeeded only in exciting 
the ridicule of his enemies and the regrets of his 
friends. His skill in the art of putting things, a 
certain honeyed sweetness of style, had often served 
him in emergencies, and by such means he now hoped 
to soften the asperity of Maria Theresa. In a long 
letter, which he addressed to Konigsegg, he com- 
plained that he was unjustly accused of fostering the 
war against Austria. "Many know," he said, "how 
opposed I was to the measures which were adopted, 
and that I was, so to speak, forced to consent. You 
can easily divine who determined the king to adopt 
a policy so contrary to my tastes and my principles. 
If I could have conferred with you," he continued, 
"it might have been possible to prevent a war which 
has caused such calamities and cost so much blood. 
God did not allow it, and I can truly say that this 
has been the chief bitterness of my whole life. But 
these great misfortunes are not beyond remedy. You 
know too well the uncertainty of affairs not to agree 
that with whatever success God favors one, -neither 
humanity, nor religion, nor even good policy allow it 
to be abused."^ 

The amiable cardinal was dealing with merciless 
foes. This lamentable epistle was at once given to 
the press, and was read by all Europe: its author 
became the jest of every diplomat, and its only effect 
was to render Maria Theresa more confident, and to 
strengthen her resolve to make no peace except at the 
price of French territory. She replied to these propo- 
sitions for peace in a letter full of invective against 
1 Fleury to Konigsegg, July 11, 1742. 


France, and declared that it was alike just and neces- 
sary to repair the wrongs that had been done, and to 
protect herself against such enterprises in the future.^ 

Nothing remained but to continue the war, and the 
condition of the army in Bohemia was now full of 
peril. Its numbers had been reduced by disease, 
battle, and desertion ; the Saxon contingent had been 
withdrawn, and Bavaria could furnish no assistance. 
No longer obliged to keep an army with which to 
oppose Frederick, Maria Theresa could concentrate 
all her forces about Prague. The French had entered 
the country as conquerors, and it seemed probable 
that they would leave it only on their parole as pris- 
oners of war. 

The rashness of attempting conquests in the heart of 
Germany was now evident ; from the Rhine to Prague 
was a march of forty days, and any reinforcements 
must cross the mountain range which divided Bohemia 
from Bavaria, where a small force could check the 
advance of an army. It was equally difficult for the 
forces at Prague to retreat, and in August the Aus- 
trians invested the place. 

The situation was rendered worse by constant bick- 
erings between the leaders. Belle Isle and Broglie 
were associated in the command, and no combination 
could have been more unfortunate. Fleury was in- 
clined to choose old men for his generals, and Broglie 
was past threescore and ten when he was sent to the 
army in Bohemia. He was infirm as well as old, and 
his enemies whispered that a partial attack of paraly- 
sis had benumbed the moderate capacity he had pos- 
sessed when younger. Belle Isle regarded him with 
a contempt which he made no effort to conceal. "I 
1 Cor. de Vienne, August 10, 1742. 


agree with all the army," he wrote of his colleague 
to the minister of war, "as to his incapacity and his 
dotage. We are sure that nothing could be worse." ^ 
The cardinal feared that Belle Isle's zeal against the 
House of Austria had been too pronounced for him 
to conduct with advantage negotiations for peace, and 
Broglie was substituted in his place. It was a judi- 
cious change, replied Belle Isle ; he himself had car- 
ried out the desires of the king as to the choice of an 
emperor, and had overcome the hostility of the Ger- 
man princes towards France, while Broglie had caused 
the ruin of the French army, had alienated the king 
of Prussia, and by his inefficiency had rendered the 
greatest services to the court of Vienna; it was natu- 
ral that he should be an acceptable negotiator to the 
queen for whom he had procured such advantages. ^ 

To such attacks Broglie retorted by saying that 
Belle Isle was constantly forming rash and chimerical 
plans, which would result in the destruction of the 
army if any one were mad enough to try to put them 
into execution, and that he lay on his bed all day, 
covering reams of paper with counsels and reproaches 
that nobody had the time to read. 

A French army of forty thousand men under the 
command of Marshal Maillebois had been stationed 
in Germany in order to overawe the electors and 
compel the neutrality of Hanover ; it was now decided 
to send these troops to the relief of the army in Bohe- 
mia. In the latter part of August the march began, 
and in September they reached Eger. But their 
most serious difficulties now began. At the news of 
their approach the Austrians reluctantly raised the 

1 Belle Isle to Breteuil, September 20, 1742. 

2 lb. to Amelot, July, 1742. 


siege of Prague, and endeavored to prevent the fur- 
ther advance of the French under Maillebois. 

The marshal was a man well stricken in years and 
of moderate ability, and the instructions under which 
he acted would have checked the success of an abler 
and a more enterprising general. Whatever else he 
did with his soldiers, said his orders, he must not let 
them fight. This was the last army which the French 
had in the field : its advance to Bavaria left France 
open to invasion; a defeat would be fatal; even a 
victory would prove a questionable blessing, for it 
would excite the enemy to attempt a diversion by 
invading France.^ When such instructions were to 
be executed by a septuagenarian general, it was not 
strange that nothing was accomplished. After much 
delay Maillebois started to cross the mountains which 
separate Eger from Prague, but the season was 
already advanced; the weather was unfavorable, and 
the roads were impassable for cannon; the attempt 
was abandoned, and the army fell back to Eger. 
Three months of marching backward and forward 
without result had discouraged the soldiers and im- 
paired their discipline. If few were lost in fighting, 
many perished from sickness ; an army of forty thou- 
sand men had marched across Germany to relieve 
Prague, and was obliged to abandon the undertaking. 

Broglie was now given the command in Bavaria, 
and Belle Isle was left in Prague, with orders to 
extricate himself as best he could. The army shut up 
in that city presented a very different spectacle from 
the forty thousand good troops who had entered the 
town a year before. Their numbers had been reduced 

^ Documents cited in Campagnes de Maillebois ; Maillebois to 
Breteuil, September 21, 1742, Mem. de NoaiUes. 


to eighteen thousand, and of these four thousand were 
unfit for service ; they were dying at the rate of thirty 
a day; they were ill provided with supplies; their 
horses had been killed ; the officers had come out in 
search of glory, but they had found only privation ; 
they had come to win promotion in pitched battles, 
they had been engaged in obscure skirmishes, and 
now had the prospect of a long and painful retreat to 
be made on foot ; the soldiers had little confidence in 
their leaders, and were equally despondent and dis- 
couraged. ^ All had been looking forward to a speedy 
relief from their troubles by the arrival of Maille- 
bois's army. It was now announced that all hope of 
succor must be abandoned; the Austrian forces again 
gathered about Prague, and the French general might 
well have felt that nothing remained but to surrender 
on the best terms that could be obtained. 

Whatever were Belle Isle's faults, he possessed 
energy and courage in a very high degree. Never 
for a moment did he entertain the idea of a surren- 
der ; there was indeed no hope of saving Prague, but 
he was ready to encounter any peril rather than 
allow the army under his command to become prison- 
ers of war. "To surrender," he wrote, "would be so 
humiliating that the thought of such a result fills me 
with horror; it is infinitely more glorious for the na- 
tion and the king to fight and perish with our arms 
in our hands." ^ 

In addition to the difficulties of the situation. Belle 
Isle's health was infirm, but no sickness could abate 
his energy, and he resolved to make his way to Bava- 
ria or perish in the attempt. In Eger he would be 

^ MSS. Mem. de Belle Isle, v. 336 et seq. 
2 Belle Isle to Breteuil, October, 1742. 


safe, but from Prague to Eger was a march of one 
hundred miles, and he must cross the Bohmerwald 
mountains, which in midwinter would be almost im- 
passable even if there were no enemy to hinder. In 
order to have any chance of a safe retreat, it was 
necessary to escape from the city unobserved by the 
Austrian patrols. The task was difficult, but it was 
accomplished; preparations were quickly made, and 
the secret was kept, not only from the enemy, but 
from the citizens of Prague, who would soon have 
revealed it to the Austrian commander. A little 
after midnight on the 17th of December, by the light 
of a winter's moon, fourteen thousand men with thirty 
cannon marched quietly out of the gates of Prague, 
and crossed with all possible haste the great plain 
that surrounds the city. The cold was intense, the 
wind blew sharply from the north, and the ground was 
covered with snow, but the soldiers marched twenty- 
four hours with hardly any respite, and reached the 
foot of the mountains before the Austrians discovered 
their escape. 

The greatest difficulties were still before them. 
The inost feasible route to Eger skirted the moim- 
tains and passed through what is now the famous 
watering-place of Carlsbad, but on this road the 
Austrian cavalry could precede the fugitives and burn 
the bridges over the river. Belle Isle therefore re- 
solved to take his army by the wild and little fre- 
quented paths which went directly over the moun- 
tains; there at least it would be impossible for the 
Austrian troops to get ahead of them and block the 
way. The natural difficulties were appalling, and 
every hour was important. Each day the army was 
on the march long before daylight, in the intense cold 


of the early morning; horses and men slipped on the 
icy roads and were lost in the abysses, by the side of 
which the mountain paths ran ; many were overcome 
by the cold; they lay down to die, and there was no 
time to stoj) for those who fell by the way. As the 
soldiers struggled over the icy heights in the pale 
moonlight, they seemed like a host of apparitions, as 
phantasmal as the dreams of conquest in pursuit of 
which they had been brought a thousand miles from 
their homes. Nine days after leaving Prague the 
French reached Eger; over one thousand men had 
perished on the march, and the condition of the sur- 
vivors was lamentable; but they were not prisoners 
of war, they had not lost a piece of cannon, and the 
honor of the army was saved. ^ 

Even the infirm remnant which had been left at 
Prague obtained favorable terms. As soon as Belle 
Isle's escape was known they were summoned to sur- 
render. "Unless those who are in condition to bear 
arms can be allowed to retire with the honors of 
war," replied their commander, "we will set fire to 
the four corners of Prague and perish in its ruins." 
Prince Lobkowitz thought that the capture of a few 
hundred infirm soldiers would be dearly bought by 
the destruction of a city, and he agreed to these con- 
ditions. His own palace was in Prague, said Maria 
Theresa in her rage, and that was why he granted the 
French terms. The most of those whom Belle Isle 
had left in the hospitals summoned up sufficient en- 

1 The best account of the retreat from Prague is in the 3ISS. 
Memoires of Belle Isle, and in his reports to Breteuil. Vauve- 
nargues took part in the retreat and has described its priva- 
tions and its miseries, from the effects of which he never re- 


ergy to appear under arms and avail themselves of 
the terms of the capitulation. To the great annoy- 
ance of the Austrian general, nearly all of the four 
thousand soldiers in the city marched out before him 
and rejoined their comrades in Bavaria.^ 

The retreat from Prague ranks high in the annals 
of heroism, but Belle Isle did not receive from his 
countrymen the applause for which he hoped. All 
were so wearied of the disasters of the Bohemian 
campaign that the escape of the relics of a defeated 
army excited no enthusiasm. The troops went into 
winter quarters, and Belle Isle returned to France, 
which he had left with such glowing hopes two years 
before, to find himself, if not actually in disgrace, yet 
a much less influential personage than he had been. 

In the mean time an event long anticipated had at 
last taken place, and the career of Cardinal Fleury was 
ended. The cardinal's constitution was vigorous and 
his health had been preserved by a temperate life, 
but the marks of great age had long been apparent. 
As he approached his ninetieth year, there were fre- 
quent rumors that he wished to lift the burdens of 
state from his aged shoulders, and to seek a season of 
repose before he died. If such hopes were enter- 
tained by those impatient of his rule, they were 
doomed to disappointment. Fleury was not a very 
ambitious man by nature, but when well advanced in 
years he had tasted the sweetness of power; he found 
it agreeable, and only with life would he part with his 
authority. In his last years he became infirm, and it 
was impossible for him to do the work which. devolved 
upon the chief minister of a great kingdom, but he 
would delegate no authority, he was jealous of any 
1 Mem de Belle Isle. v. 


division of power; though his hands were trembling, 
never for one moment would he relinquish their hold 
upon the reins of state. 

In the latter part of 1742, it became plain that in 
the long contest between death and the cardinal, the 
victory of the former could not be much longer de- 
layed. The old man's sight was dim and his hearing 
was dull ; one day the end would seem at hand, and 
he would prepare to receive the viaticum; on the 
next he would revive and preside at a meeting of the 
council, though his mind was as dull as his physical 
vision. "The cardinal is like a candle," wrote an 
observer, "which flickers up just as it seems about 
to go out, but each time with less force." ^ Every 
symptom was critically watched by a court where 
almost all were impatient for the end to come. "To- 
day he is taking goat's milk," writes one, "but goat's 
milk is of no use for old men." 

Public business was almost suspended during the 
weeks that Fleury lay between life and death. "The 
cardinal is dying," wrote the Prussian minister, "and 
the king will decide nothing while he lives ; the min- 
isters will give no directions in matters of importance 
lest the cardinal should be offended; everything re- 
mains in suspense." 2 The people wearied of this 
long death agony. "The public is beginning to be 
impatient," writes a chronicler, "that the cardinal is 
so long about dying." ^ On the 29th of January, 
1743, the end came. "At last the cardinal is dead," 
was the expression on every lip.* He was in his 

^ Letters of TeDcin and Broglie, December and January. 
2 Chambrier to Frederick, November 26, 1742. 
^ Journal de Police, January 20, 1743. 
^ Argenson, January 30, 1743. 


ninetieth year, and for seventeen years he had been 
the ruler of France. 

In vigor of intellect, Fleury was inferior to the 
three cardinals who, within a century, had held the 
same office and exercised an equal authority; he did 
not possess the original genius nor the dauntless reso- 
lution of Richelieu ; in skill of political combination, 
in acuteness of political foresight, he was not the 
equal of Mazarin; far superior to Dubois in charac- 
ter, he was his inferior in intellectual acumen. Yet 
if a man is entitled to be called a great statesman 
who exercises power with judgment, with justice, 
with a sincere desire for the welfare of the people, 
Fleury should receive that meed of praise. In a day 
when corruption was common, he kept his hands clean 
from unjust gains; he was fond of power, but he 
was not selfish in his use of it. Richelieu, Mazarin, 
and Colbert had used the resources of the state to 
indulge in a magnificent pomp: they had built pal- 
aces, they had accumulated great estates, they had 
left great fortunes. Fleury showed the elevation of 
his mind in regarding such things as of small impor- 
tance. No one was more indifferent to spectacular 
display, to those external insignia of power which 
please the vain and impress the vulgar. He could 
have had surroundings more splendid than those of 
Richelieu, and have accumulated a fortune larger than 
that of Mazarin : he chose to lead a life of extreme 
simplicity. He gave freely to charity, and died, com- 
paratively speaking, a poor man.^ 

When we consider his administration, it must be 
pronounced, for the most part, wise and beneficial ; if 
the condition of the people did not show marked 
^ Mem. de LuyneSy iv. 401. 


improvement, yet on the whole it was ameliorated, 
and the cardinal sought to secure for them the great- 
est of blessings, the blessing of peace. He was avari- 
cious in his care of the public expenditure, but such 
avarice is a virtue in a ruler; he established order in 
the finances; he stopped the frequent depreciations of 
the currency, which for centuries had checked busi- 
ness development ; he helped to prepare the way for 
a great increase in wealth and commercial activity. 
He had no taste for war, yet by adroit diplomacy he 
secured for his country a valuable addition of terri- 
tory; if he did not increase the influence of France 
as did Richelieu, nor enlarge her boundaries as much 
as Mazarin, the acquisition of Lorraine was due to 
his judicious policy; it added to the strength of 
France, and it promoted the well-being of the inhabit- 
ants of that province; the annexation made France 
greater and Lorraine happier. 

It was unfortunate for Fleury's fame that he lived 
so long. The participation of France in the war of 
the Austrian Succession was the great mistake, it 
may be called the great crime, of his administration ; 
if we recognize the good judgment which saw the 
folly of such a course, we must condemn the weakness 
that consented to it. The close of Fleury's life pre- 
sented a melancholy spectacle. It was a sad sight to 
see the old man dying by inches, weak in body, infirm 
in purpose; acquiescing sadly in a policy of which 
he disapproved; clinging to a power which he could 
no longer exercise; surrounded by men who watched 
with eagerness his increasing cough, his tottering 
step, his blurred eye ; with physicians bringing drugs 
that could be of no avail, and priests waiting to ad- 
minister the last rites to one reluctant to receive them ; 


while the ministers of state sat idly by their portfo- 
lios, and the king came weeping from the sick man's 
chamber, and went away to seek consolation from 
Mme. de la Tournelle. But if we consider Fleury's 
life and career as a whole, we must place him among 
those who have well served their country and are 
entitled to its gratitude. 

The rule of Fleury had for some time been weak 
and fluctuating; it was succeeded by administrative 
anarchy. The king sought to imitate Louis XIV., 
and declared that in the future he would have no 
prime minister, but would himself control his govern- 
ment. Seventeen years before he had made the same 
annovmcement, but it had proved only a form of 
words, for Fleury became prime minister, in fact if 
not in name. The second announcement was in part 
verified, for no minister succeeded to Fleury's power; 
but the king did not perform his promise and exer- 
cise a personal control over the administration. He 
imitated Louis XIV. in having no head to the 
government except the king, but, as he failed to act 
in that capacity himself, the government was left with 
no head at aU. For a while, indeed, Louis attended 
the councils of his ministers, and seemed to interest 
himseK in the affairs of the state. These attempts 
at personal rule were welcomed by the people; the 
French liked a king who governed ; no faineant mon- 
arch was ever popular among them, and the belief was 
still strong that the king himself could do no wrong, 
that he was wise and just, and the evils of government 
were due to the ministers, and not to the sovereign. 

Louis XV. soon wearied of the role which he had 
undertaken. It was not because he was unequal to 
the task; in intelligence he was superior to Louis 


XIV. : when he discussed political questions his re- 
marks often showed unusual sagacity; he saw the 
true policy to be pursued at the death of Charles VI., 
though he was too indifferent to overrule the brawlers 
who cried for war; he pointed out the evils of some 
of the ruinous treaties to which France became a 
party, — but on all such occasions he contented him- 
self with criticism ; if his ministers saw fit to commit 
follies, he would not stand in their way. 

The details of administration, the monotonous 
work, the long sessions at the council table, spent in 
listening to prosy ministers, — all this bored him, and 
he did not care enough for the interests of the state 
to subject himself to such annoyances; indifference 
to everything except his own amusement was the be- 
setting sin of Louis XV. "Nothing affects him in 
the council," wrote Tencin. "He appears to be ab- 
solutely indifferent. . . . He signs unread whatever 
is presented to him. One is paralyzed by the little 
interest the king takes, and by the profound silence 
he observes."^ Apathy was the foundation of his 
character, said another minister; he was incapable of 
love or hate. 2 

When the king would give no orders, each minister 
was left to administer his department in accordance 
with his own notions. Four ministers, said Luynes, 
divided among them the power of Fleury, and the 
only question on which they agreed was the exclusion 
from the council of every one of whose influence they 
were jealous.^ As no one will controlled them, they 

1 Letters of Tencin, June 20, August 29, October 3, 1743. 

2 Count of Argenson, cited by Tencin, September 16, 1743; 
Mem. de Tencin, October 10, 1743. 

* Mem. de Luynes, July, 1743. 


were often at variance and their disputes became 
rancorous; at some of the councils, said one who was 
a member of them, the debates were so violent that 
one could not have heard the thunder of the Almighty 
amid the din.^ 

The king's unwillingness to be annoyed affected 
the choice of his ministers. Earlier in the reign 
Chauvelin had shown such ability that he excited 
Fleury's jealousy and was summarily dismissed. He 
was long regarded as the man most likely to fill the 
cardinal's place, but he was never recalled to office. 
An injudicious letter offended the king, but it was 
said at court, and probably with truth, that what 
really excluded him from the royal councils was 
Louis's aversion to his manners. Chauvelin was 
given to pleasantries, his talk was familiar, his voice 
was loud, and in such matters the king was finical: 
he was annoyed by any one who lacked the ease of 
good breeding, the graceful bow, the well-attimed 
voice, the discreet and ready answer, which were 
found in the perfect courtier, and no skill in affairs 
atoned for manners that were disagreeable. 

The men who occupied places in the council after 
Fleury's death were none of them persons of great 
ability. Frederick said that the finances were in- 
trusted to a captain of dragoons, the department of 
war to an attorney, and foreign affairs to a man who 
imitated Fleury as a hunchback might imitate the 
premiere danseuse of the ballet. If the criticism was 
harsh, it was not without justification. Orry, who had 
been a captain of cavalry, had charge of the finances, 
— a man of large experience and of moderate parts. 
Amelot, the secretary for foreign affairs, displeased 
^ Argenson to Broglie, May 13, 1743. 


the public by his timidity and the king by his stut- 
tering, and he was presently dismissed. Argenson, 
though he had been bred to the law, was a creditable 
secretary of war; less could be said in favor of the 
Count of Maurepas, who had been made a secretary 
of state at the age of fourteen, and now had charge 
of the navy. Maurepas was celebrated for his wit, 
for his literary collections, and for his scandalous 
epigrams, but though he knew much of many things, 
he knew little of the department of which he was the 

The ablest man among the ministers was Cardinal 
Tencin. A protege of Dubois, he had secured his 
promotion to the cardinalate by the methods employed 
by his patron; his moral character was hopelessly 
bad, but he was a man of intelligence and capacity. 
His early success in life he owed to his sister, and 
her character deserves some attention as illustrating 
the curious social conditions which prevailed in the 
age of Louis XV. Beginning life at a convent, she 
fled from it and renounced her vows, and for many 
years led a life as brilliant as it was immoral. It 
was on account of her charms, as was said, that her 
brother found favor with Cardinal Dubois, and the 
famous Alembert was her illegitimate child. Yet, 
notwithstanding a career in which there was not even 
a pretense of virtue, the talents, the conversation, 
the address of Mme. de Tencin gained her a recog- 
nized position in society ; as years went on her con- 
duct became more discreet, and her salon was one of 
the most brilliant in Paris. She was a power at 
court and in literature; she was consulted in political 
intrigues ; she helped to make and mar literary reputa- 
tions, and if her own books were of such a character 


that she did not openly acknowledge them, they were 
none the less read. 

The brother was like the sister. An archbishop 
and a cardinal, his ecclesiastical dignities did not 
prevent his becoming a close ally of the Duke of 
Richelieu, the nobleman who took charge of the in- 
trigues of the back stairs. 

Such intrigues, unfortunately, it was impossible to 
neglect during the reign of Louis XV. At Ver- 
sailles, as at some oriental court, a revolution of the 
seraglio often affected the destinies of the state. 
Whether Chateauroux or Pompadour or Du Barry 
was the king's mistress was of more political impor- 
tance than whether Tencin or Bernis or Choiseul was 
the king's minister; indeed, the choice of the latter 
was often due to the caprice of the former. 

It was not until 1742 that affairs of this nature 
assumed a political character, and the Duchess of 
Chateauroux was the first of the favorites who sought 
to rule the kingdom. Louis had already chosen two 
mistresses from the noble house of Nesle, but one 
of the sisters died, and Mme. de Mailly, the next in 
order, had little beauty and less sprightliness. The 
kins: had been attracted to her because she was thrown 
in his way; he now wearied of his choice, and declared 
his weariness with the discourteous frankness that 
was habitual with him. "That woman has bored me 
for a year," he said, "and that is quite enough." 

Another member of the family was ready for the 
succession. Mme. de la Tournelle was a younger 
sister, and was now twenty -five. She was beautiful, 
brilliant, and ambitious, and such a woman could ex- 
ercise a large influence upon the king. In England, 
aspiring politicians would have intrigued for the ele- 


vation of a minister; in France, Richelieu and his 
associates devoted their energies to the selection of 
a friendly mistress. The first step was to bring the 
future favorite to Versailles, and even this was not 
altogether easy. Though the palace was large, the 
number of noblemen and dignitaries desiring quarters 
in it was still larger. There was difficulty in finding 
a place for a new-comer, but Eichelieu was equal to 
the task. It was with especial pleasure that a disci- 
ple of Voltaire found a bishop ready to assist in 
so edifying an intrigue. Mme. de la Tournelle was 
established in the quarters assigned to the Bishop of 
Rennes, and the king and his adviser there visited 
her, disguised as physicians, in order to escape the 
notice of the court. ^ 

No disguise was necessary to save the susceptibili- 
ties of the new favorite. She was not a woman to be 
led from virtue by any transient passion ; she made 
her bargain with as much precision as the most care- 
ful merchant of the city, and was entirely willing that 
it should be known. 

Mme. de la Tournelle demanded a separate estab- 
lishment, of which the expenses should be paid, be- 
sides thirty thousand livres a month for servants and 
dress and gambling, and she said that she must be 
made a duchess. Moreover, royal lovers were fickle, 
and this practical lady provided for every emergency ; 
in the diplomatic language which she used, "when she 
retired," she was to receive a pension of twenty -five 
thousand livres. ^ Her demands were acceded to; the 
price was paid, and the rank was bestowed. "The 
position of mistress of the king," said a satirist, "is 

1 Mem. de Brancas^ 61 et pas. 

2 See papers cited in Broglie's Frederic II. et Louis XV. 


now a dignity ; one says to her, ' the position to which 
you have been elevated ; ' she replies, ' the position 
which I occupy.' "^ 

When we read the details of this amazing bargain, 
we think it must be some common prostitute who 
thus haggles over the price of her dishonor. Far 
from it; the family of Nesle was ancient, if not illus- 
trious, and its place in the French nobility could not 
be disputed. The future mistress was the daughter 
of a marquis ; the lover was a king ; the details of the 
bargain were arranged by a duke; the intrigue was 
favored by a cardinal and furthered by a bishop; 
such a negotiation, conducted by the most distin- 
guished members of the aristocracy and approved by 
the highest dignitaries of the church, is an illustra- 
tion of the moral condition of the upper classes under 
Louis XV. 

It was an established usage of this extraordinary 
era that the king's mistress should become one of the 
ladies in waiting on the king's wife. Marie Leszczyn- 
ski was long-suffering, but the publicity and the scan- 
dal of this new selection overcame even her patience. 
"She looks very black," the favorite wrote gleefully 
to Richelieu. "By the law of the game this is the 
privilege of those who lose."^ 

In the following year Mme. de la Tournelle was 
made Duchess of Chateauroux, and received a domain 
yielding eighty -five thousand livres a year. "A pro- 
motion due," so said the letters patent of Louis XV., 
"not only to the services rendered to the crown by 
her illustrious family, but to the qualities of heart 
she has displayed since she has been attached to the 

^ Cited in Journal d'Argenson. 

^ Letter cited by Broglie, Frederic II. et Louis X V. 


queen, our dear spouse, and which have secured for 
her universal esteem." The Duke of Eichelieu and 
the Duchess of Chateauroux are not edifying charac- 
ters to study ; but they exercised a considerable influ- 
ence upon the king of France; the steps which he 
took under their guidance helj^ed to weaken monar- 
chical traditions among the French people, and they 
must not be disregarded in considering the events 
which prepared the way for a social revolution. 

While the attention of Versailles was occupied with 
the choice of a mistress and the death of a cardinal, 
the war continued its course. The retreat from 
Prague had saved the relics of an army, and fortune 
had been so unfavorable that even this escape from 
calamity was received with thankfulness.^ But the 
condition of affairs in the spring of 1743 was far 
different from what it had been when eighty thousand 
French soldiers crossed the Rhine to overawe the 
electoral diet, and assist in the dismemberment of the 
Austrian empire. The French would now have been 
glad to make peace, if the emperor of their choice 
could have been assured the enjoyment of his dignity 
and of his hereditary possessions, abandoning all 
claims on those of Maria Theresa; they would have 
gained nothing by three years of war except an empty 
dignity for a friend, which on his death would surely 
revert to the House of Austria. It was impossible to 
obtain peace even on these terms. The English were 
now heartily engaged in the war; with their own 
soldiers, and the Hanoverians and Hessians in their 
pay, they had forty thousand men in the field, and 
they furnished Maria Theresa a subsidy of three hun- 
dred thousand pounds. Carteret was eager for war, 
1 Dis. Ven,, t. 234, 50. 


and seconded the desires of George II. The com- 
mand of the English army was given to Stair, and 
he assured the Austrian ministers that now was the 
moment to destroy forever the ascendency of France 
on the Continent ; Alsace and Lorraine, with parts of 
Burgundy and Artois, must be taken from the offend- 
ing nation and divided between Austria and the em- 
peror.^ In his memoirs Frederick has ridiculed Belle 
Isle for his perplexities as to the proper disposition 
of some of the territories to be taken from Maria 
Theresa. Lord Stair seems to have been equally 
uncertain what to do with the various provinces of 
which France was now to be despoiled. 

While Maria Theresa was eager to wreak her ven- 
geance on all her enemies, the English were ready to 
grant reasonable terms to the emperor, who was only 
a political cipher. Such views were not acceptable 
to their ally. When the English talked of attacking 
France, Maria Theresa agreed with them, and when 
they advised granting terms to the emperor, she 
abused them as faint-hearted and false to their agree- 
ment. Among all the rulers of Europe no one was 
more relentless, more indifferent to the waste of hu- 
man life or the increase of public misery, than the 
queen of Hungary; in adversity, she was a sublime 
figure, but when pursuing her vengeance or her ambi- 
tion, she was as harsh and stubborn as Elizabeth of 
Spain. Her English aUies, she complained, had 
already forced her to surrender Silesia to obtain peace 
from Frederick, and they now insisted that she should 
sacrifice further territory to obtain the aid of Charles 
Emmanuel; but if these lukewarm friends compelled 

1 Stair to Kouigsegg, July 16, 1742; Ref. Sec, June 17, 1742, 
cited in Ameth, Maria Theresia^ t. ii. 


her to build up the power of the rival houses of 
Brandenburg and Sardinia, France must furnish the 
compensation as a penalty for having started this 
iniquitous war. As for the emperor, she declared 
that if he was no longer formidable, he was none the 
less blamable; she refused to recognize his title, 
and would grant him no terms unless he proved his 
repentance by declaring war upon France.^ If he 
would do that, and surrender Bavaria to her, the 
allies might be willing to conquer for him some 
French provinces. 

The French were now anxious to abandon Germany 
and concentrate their forces, in order to repel the in- 
vasion with which their own country was threatened ; 
having started a war to dismember the Austrian em- 
pire, they had now to continue it to save their own 
land from dismemberment. 

Though it was difficult if not impossible to sustain 
their army in Bavaria, yet its withdrawal v/ould leave 
their unfortunate ally, the emperor, in grievous plight. 
He could not defend himself against the Austrians; 
he would remain an exile from his hereditary domin- 
ions, a fugitive dependent on the charity of friends. 
It was natural that he should protest bitterly against 
such a policy. "I see myself," wrote the unfortunate 
sovereign to Louis XV., "despoiled of all my states, 
obliged to wander from asylum to asylum in the 
midst of that empire of which I am the chief." ^ 
Charles VII. had already been chased from Munich, 
and had found shelter in the free city of Frankfort, 
the nominal capital of the shadowy empire of which 
he was the head. So entirely had real power been 

1 Tagebuch Karl's VII., 72-79 ; Arneth, t. ii. 

2 Charles VII. to Louis XV., June 24, 1743. 


stripped from his office that the successor of Charle- 
magne and Otto the Great could not command from 
all the states which owed him allegiance enough 
money to pay his valets, or enough soldiers to form a 
body-guard. His jewels and his furniture were mort- 
gaged, and he tried in vain to obtain a further loan 
on their security : so deplorable was the condition of 
a man who nominally was the most exalted sover- 
eign in Christendom. He would be "aut Caesar, aut 
nihil," said the wits; "he is ' et Caesar et nihil.' "^ 
Some time before, he sought to borrow six million 
florins from Frederick II., and offered Bohemia as 
security. Nothing annoyed that thrifty monarch so 
much as a demand for money, and he did not regard 
the emperor's title to Bohemia as satisfactory security 
for a loan. When Frederick stated his reasons for 
abandoning his allies, he noted one which undoubtedly 
influenced his mind, — "The effrontery of the emperor 
and of the French in asking a loan of six million 
florins from me without security." ^ 

With better success Charles applied to France for 
help, and the French, having elected a phantom em- 
peror, were now obliged to support him. But while 
they were willing to dole out money for his necessities, 
they were unable to hold Bavaria, and they would 
have been pleased if their ally, who had become a 
burden, could have obtained peace on reasonable 
terms. We are content you should make peace on 
any terms you can get, they told him in substance, so 
long as you do not become the enemy of France.^ But 
Maria Theresa would concede him nothing unless he 
would declare war on France, and even then would 

1 Barbier, iii. 360. 2 Qor. Pol., iii. 100. 

8 Tagebuch, 91. 


concede very little, while Charles was unable to resign 
the dreams of greatness in which he had so long in- 

When Belle Isle was on his way home from Prague, 
he was ordered to stop at Frankfort, to prepare the 
emperor for the possibility of the abandonment of 
Bavaria by the French army, and to incline him to 
moderate his ambitious expectations. "No one can 
soften this advice better than you," the minister 
wrote the marshal. It was a melancholy meeting. 
When they had parted months before, Charles was 
exulting in the ineffable grandeur with which he felt 
himself invested, and Belle Isle was confident of the 
full success of his plans for the overthrow of the 
House of Austria. Now Charles was a needy fugitive, 
and it was Belle Isle's unpleasant duty to advise the 
abandonment of all hopes of any share in the succes- 
sion of Maria Theresa. The emperor was suffering 
in body as well as mind, for he was terribly afflicted 
by the gout. He told Belle Isle of all his woes : so 
impoverished was he, that even the tradespeople and 
furnishers would give him no more credit; nothing 
remained for him, he said, but to abdicate and hide 
his misery from the world. ^ "In this year," writes 
Charles in his journal, "I have found the inconsis- 
tency of fortune and greatness. The year had but 
one fortunate day, — the one on which I was elected 
emperor." 2 He might have said more truly that that 
day was of all the year the most unfortunate, for his 
elevation had brought in its train the misfortunes 
from which he suffered. 

The French helped their needy protege to pay his 

1 MSS. Mkm. de Belle Isle, v. 35(X-355. 

2 Tagebuch, 74. 


servants and his grocers. "I could not resist giving 
him at least enough to keep him from dying of hun- 
ger," wrote Noailles a few months later, but they 
pursued their plans for the abandonment of Bavaria.^ 
The emperor remonstrated in vain. His misfortunes 
had taught him little; at the first gleam of success 
he fancied himseK returning in triumph to Munich, 
with Bohemia added to his dominions and his son 
chosen king of the Romans. ^ On the other hand, in 
the withdrawal of the French troops from Bavaria he 
saw himself banished from Munich, and doomed to 
a needy and precarious existence at Frankfort. 

Louis tried to evade the remonstrances of his ally 
by sending ambiguous instructions to Broglie, but the 
marshal pursued his plans for evacuation, and in 
June, 1743, he marched away from Bavaria.^ Never 
had such a case of desertion been known, wrote 
Charles ; it was a sad fate for an emperor.* Aban- 
doned by his French allies, he now declared himself 
neutral, and he was willing to relinquish all claims on 
the Austrian succession if he could again rule tran- 
quilly in his beloved Bavaria.^ He agreed to these 
concessions the more willingly because his confessor 
assured him that he was acting under duress and 

1 Noailles to king, July 8, 1743. 

2 Mem. de Belle Isle ; Tagehuch, 73, 96, 127, etc. 

* This movement was held to be contrary to his orders, and 
Broglie was retired from his command for disobedience. But 
the ambiguity of his instructions justified almost any step on 
which he might have decided, and there is no doubt his superiors 
were glad to have Bavaria abandoned. See the voluminous 
correspondence between Broglie and the war department for 

* Tagehuchy 91. 

* lb., 96. 


could lawfully retract what he now yielded, and again 
assert his rights, whenever the opportunity offered. ^ 
Charles kept faith better than most of his brother 
monarchs, but after all he belonged to his century. 
It is hard to say what could constitute an agreement 
that would be regarded as binding at this era ; if a 
treaty was distasteful, neither monarch, nor statesman, 
nor priest hesitated to declare it void when circum- 
stances had changed, and we find no difference in this 
code of morals between the rulers who had the most 
accommodating of Jesuit confessors and those who 
professed the most advanced free thought; the prin- 
ciples of public faith in Europe at this period did 
not differ from those which are held by the savages 
of Ashantee or Dahomey. 

No peace could be made on any terms. Carteret 
tried to befriend the vagrant emperor, but he could 
not soothe the relentless animosity of Maria Theresa. 
Charles was not allowed to return to Munich. The 
Austrians subjected the unfortunate Bavarians to 
excessive taxation, and compelled them to take an 
oath of allesfiance to Maria Theresa. "This is con- 
trary to the laws of the empire," wrote Charles, who 
believed the empire was still a reality and not a fic- 
tion; "a member who fails to recognize the rights 
of its chief should be regarded as a rebel and jDut 
under the ban."^ But the ban of the empire in the 
eighteenth century was more harmless than the ban 
of the church. "In this century," added Charles, 
"they make a mock of all that is most sacred in the 
world. "^ 

Domestic losses were added to his misfortunes; a 
daughter whom he dearly loved died of smallpox, he 

1 Tagebuchy 96, 97. « lb., 99. » /6., 136. 


was separated from his family; in all Europe there 
was probably no more unhappy man than the succes- 
sor of Charlemagne. An emperor without an empire 
and a sovereign without subjects, his fate excites our 
sympathy when we consider his kindly and honorable 
nature; we feel that it was not wholly undeserved 
when we reflect upon the weakness of his character, 
the infirmity of his purpose, and the mediocrity of his 

While Broglie was preparing to abandon the em- 
peror to his fate, the English, Hanoverians, and 
Austrians, forty-five thousand strong, advanced to- 
wards the Rhine. Like most allied armies, they suf- 
fered from divided counsels, and they finally en- 
camped at Aschaffenburg on the Main, in a position 
which was difficult to attack, but from which it was 
equally difficult to escape. When provisions became 
scarce, they left their camp and started to march 
along the stream and make their way through Dettin- 
gen to Hanau. The French were under the com- 
mand of Noailles, and this was the opportunity for 
which he had waited ; the enemy had to move through 
a narrow plain surrounded by hills, and the only 
practicable outlet was by Dettingen. In this town 
Noailles stationed twenty-four thousand men under 
the Duke of Gramont, with instructions to hold their 
position and content themselves with repelling any 
assaidt, while the batteries from the other side of the 
river would play upon the enemy as they advanced 
along the stream. Noailles had taken possession of 
Aschaffenburg as the English left it, and he proposed 
to attack them in the rear ; the allies were hedged in : 
it seemed doubtfid if they could escape without serious 
loss, and the French even hoped they might be forced 


to surrender. The tactics of Noailles received the 
commendation of the highest authority in Europe. 
"It was," said Frederick, "a plan worthy of a great 
captain." It failed, not from any brilliant inspiration 
on the part of the enemy, for there was not in the 
allied army a general above mediocrity, but from a 
cause which cost the French many a victory, — the 
recklessness and insubordination of their officers. 

The battle began on June 27, 1743, and for a while 
all went well. Noailles cut off the retreat of the en- 
emy; from across the river batteries did good execu- 
tion, and the aUies made slow progress in extricating 
themselves from their difficulties. But the Duke of 
Gramont, who commanded the forces at Dettingen, 
was a young man who owed his military position to 
his rank, and not to any experience in the field ; he 
had no qualities which fitted him for command, and 
he had the defect that made many a French nobleman 
a danger to the army in which he served, — he was 
impatient of orders, and desired above all other re- 
sults from a battle to gain distinction for himself. 
Gramont wearied of waiting where he had been sta- 
tioned, and he feared that the battle would be won 
without his having the glory of winning it. He was 
intoxicated with the vision of a marshal's baton, said 
his critics. At all events, he led his forces from Det- 
tingen and made a fierce assault upon the English 
army. Thus he threw away all the advantage of posi- 
tion for which Noailles had manoeuvred, he attacked 
the entire force of the allies with a portion of the 
French army, he encountered superior numbers bet- 
ter placed and better disciplined. The English in- 
fantry, said Noailles, stood like a wall of iron, and 
their fire was incomparably superior to that of the 


French.^ The forces under Gramont were routed, and 
their defeat left the way open for the English ad- 
vance. At sunset the battle ceased, the English slept 
on the field, and the next day they proceeded without 
further molestation to Hanau. The losses were about 
three thousand on each side.^ 

George II. was present at Dettingen with his army, 
and Frederick, in his memoirs, says that he stood 
during all the battle in front of his Hanoverian bat- 
talion, right foot forward, sword in hand and arm 
extended, in the attitude of a fencing-master. ^ 

Frederick's memoirs are often as untrustworthy as 
they are entertaining, and in fact George seems to 
have acquitted himself as a good and valorous soldier 
at Dettingen. But he was content with his laurels, 
and felt no desire to renew the experience ; the Eng- 
lish commander. Lord Stair, resigned in disgust, and 
the English and Hanoverian troops were on bad 
terms. The English charged their Hanoverian allies 
with cowardice, and said that they halted as soon as 
they came in sight of the battle, refusing to share the 
danger and the glory of the day ; as a result of such 
bickerings and indecision the Pragmatic Army, as it 
was called, accomplished nothing more during the 
year. The Austrians under Prince Charles made 
some endeavors to invade Alsace, but these were 
easily foiled, and the material results of the victory 
of Dettingen were small. 

The moral results were of more importance, for 
Maria Theresa and her allies became still more confi- 

^ Lettre particuli^re au roi, June 29, 1743. 
2 See report of Noailles to Argensou, June 26 ; to king, June 
28 ; Report of Stair, Dispatch of Carteret, etc. 
8 Mem. de Fred., i. 101. 


dent of their ability to inflict a condign punishment 
on their chief enemy, and all was exultation at 
Vienna. The army of the king of England, wrote 
Stair, would now burst upon France like a thunder- 
bolt. Among the French, on the other hand, this 
last disaster increased the discouragement which had 
long prevailed.^ The resources of the country were 
not exhausted, said a minister, but the soldiers were 
ill disciplined, the officers were inefficient, and there 
was neither unity nor vigor in the administration.^ 
The king himself possessed no power of heroic re- 
sistance ; he bore little resemblance to his cousin of 
Prussia. "We must have peace," he wrote; "the 
best we can make." "We must not make a disgrace- 
ful treaty," he says again, "unless we are constrained 
by too great force. "^ Apparently Louis thought the 
forces against him were now overpowering, for he 
was willing to cede Lorraine as a condition of peace.* 
Such timid counsels were soon abandoned, and the 
king was incited to play a manly part, which won for 
him an outburst of loyalty among his subjects as fer- 
vent as it was brief. Among the counselors to whom 
he listened with attention was Marshal Noailles, who 
had served under Louis XIV., had helped to extri- 
cate the finances from confusion under the regent, 
and had always shown himself a man of patriotism 

^ " La desolazione della corte passo a involgere in lagrime ed 
in angoscie questa numerosissima citta," says the Venetian am- 
bassador, July 8, 1743. 

2 Tencin to king, July 13, 1743. 

8 Louis to Noailles, July 5 and 13, 1743. 

4 Tencin to king, July 13, 1743 ; to Richelieu, July 31. The 
Venetian ambassador, usually well informed, says the council 
was in favor of ceding Lorraine, but Louis would -not consent. 
Dis. Ven., 234, 355. 


and fair judgment. The marshal was a worshiper 
at the shrine of Louis XIV., and he constantly re- 
peated the wisdom of the great monarch for the edifi- 
cation of his descendant. " In case of war, be yourself 
at the head of your armies," the old king had said 
to his grandson, the king of Spain, and no sooner 
had Fleury died than Noailles found occasion to send 
this and other apothegms of Louis XIV. for the in- 
struction of the king of France.^ Such a suggestion 
was eminently judicious. The French were a warlike 
nation; when their king accompanied his armies to 
the field, he always excited the ardor of his soldiers 
and the admiration of his people; it was among the 
traditions of the monarchy that the sovereign shoiUd 
share the perils and the glory of warfare ; few French 
kings had not been seen at the head of their own 

Louis XV. inherited the military tastes of his an- 
cestors, and such an appeal found a ready response. 
"I have a strong desire," he wrote Noailles, "to 
familiarize myseK with the trade in which my fore- 
fathers have been proficient." ^ "I cannot look on," 
he writes again, "while our cities are captured and 
our frontiers ravaged." ^ 

The king's desire to share the fortunes of his army 
was fostered, even if it was not suggested, by Mme. 
de Chateauroux. If the new favorite was greedy and 
ambitious, her ambition was not of an ignoble type ; 
she dreamed of rousing her lover from his sluggish 
indifference, of showing herself a new Agnes Sorel, 
of justifying her place in the king's affections by 

1 See Correspondence Louis XV. with Noailles. 

2 Louis to Noailles, July 24, 1743. 

3 lb., August 16. 


turning Lim from a faineant ruler into a hero. A 
common desire to make a warrior of the king created 
a temporary alliance between the exemplary nephew 
of Mme. de Main tenon and the beautiful duchess 
who now ruled at Versailles ; the old marshal encour- 
aged Louis's warlike ardor with the same zeal as the 
young mistress. "I recognize the blood and the 
sentiments of Louis XIV. and of Henry IV.," wrote 
the marshal. "Your kingdom is purely a military 
one; the love of arms has always distinguished the 
nation. Your majesty would be the first and the only 
one of his race who had never appeared at the head 
of his armies."^ "AU that contributes to his glory 
and raises him above other kings will be agreeable to 
me," wrote the mistress.^ It was decided that in the 
following year Louis should take the field in person. 

This generous resolution was embarrassed by the 
fatal weaknesses of Louis's character, — his love of 
pleasure, his unwillingness to sacrifice his amusement 
at the call of public duty. Louis was ready to go 
to the field, and his mistress encouraged him in this 
resolution, but the king wished her to be of the party, 
and the duchess was most anxious that she should be.^ 
So timid was the king's character that he did not 
venture to decide on taking such a step. The pro- 
ject was suggested to Noailles, but the austere mar- 
shal discouraged it, alleging, as an excuse, the large 
expense that was incurred when ladies formed part of 
the royal retinue. 

This objection was not of great force. "The king 

1 Noailles to king, August 6, 1743. 

2 September 3, 1743. 

^ Mme. de la Tournelle to Noailles, September 3, 1743 ; 
letter of Noailles, September 11, etc. 


has his master of ceremonies, his chamberlain, his 
cooks, and his scullions," wrote a coui cier when Louis 
had departed; "nothing is left behind but the mis- 
tress."^ One more follower would not have imposed 
a large additional burden on the royal budget, but 
there were more substantial reasons for not parading 
the king's weaknesses before the army and all Europe. 
Louis was little pleased by this decision, though he 
did not venture to overrule it; he submitted to 
.Noailles's judgment, but he owed him a grudge for 
it. The marshal had enjoyed so large a share of the 
monarch's confidence that he was regarded as a prob- 
able successor to Fleury's power, but his star de- 
clined from the time he interfered with his master's 
pleasures ; if not actually disgraced, he ceased to re- 
ceive any marks of special favor. 

It was not until the spring of 1744 that Louis took 
the field, and in the mean time new combinations 
somewhat changed the aspect of affairs. The attempt 
to despoil Maria Theresa of her inheritance had in- 
volved Italy as well as Germany in hostilities. Upon 
the death of Charles VL, Philip V. advanced his 
claims to the succession of the Hapsburgs as the heir 
of Charles II. of Spain. Spain had guaranteed the 
Pragmatic Sanction, but this guarantee affected her 
conduct as little as that of other nations. The posi- 
tion now taken could not, however, be regarded as 
serious; any theory which made Philip V. an heir of 
Charles VI. would have made Louis XV.* a stiU 
nearer heir. But if Philip's pretensions to the entire 
heritage were slight, he hoped by means of them to 
get some portion of the plunder in which most of 
Europe was preparing to share. 

1 Journal d\4.rgensonf May 3, 1744. 


In November, 1741, a Spanish army landed in 
Italy with the purpose of obtaining for the sons of 
the Spanish queen all that could be wrested from the 
inheritance of Maria Theresa. Elizabeth's ambition 
for her children secured, however, an ally for her 
adversary. The king of Sardinia was anxious to 
have his part in the spoils which the death of Charles 
VI. exposed to the greed of Europe, but he was 
equally anxious to keep Bourbon princes out of Italy. 
While expressly reserving his own right to lay claim 
to Milan, he now agreed to assist Austria against the 
Spanish, and as a result the Spanish army made little 
progress. The king of the Two Sicilies desired to 
interfere in behalf of his family, but an English fleet 
sailed to Naples and threatened to bombard the city 
unless the king remained neutral ; under this vigorous 
pressure he withdrew his forces and left his kinsmen 
to fight their own battles. This they were not able 
to do with any success; the Spanish general was 
timid and inert, and in the only engagement of impor- 
tance between him and the Austrians the latter had 
the best of it. 

The French now came to the assistance of their 
Spanish kinsfolk, and the arrival of their army in 
Italy in 1743 changed the prospects of the combat- 
ants. Charles Emmanuel was king of Sardinia, and 
the French tried to obtain his aid; but that wily 
prince observed the judicious policy of the House of 
Savoy, he negotiated with both sides in search of the 
most favorable terms. ^ The assistance of the Pied- 
montese army, considerable in number and commanded 

^ The court of Turin was justly regarded among diplomats as 
"la plus fine cour de toute I'Europe." Instruction fur dem 
Grafen Richecourt, 1744. 


with ability, was enough to secure the preponderance 
in Italy of the cause which Charles espoused, and 
the French would gladly have enlisted him in their 
interests by agreeing to give him all that should be 
won of Austria's Italian possessions. They were 
hampered, however, by their alliance with Spain, for 
while Charles Emmanuel wished the duchy of Milan 
for himself, the queen of Spain was unwilling that he 
should have it ; she had begun the war to obtain Ital- 
ian principalities for her own children, and she in- 
sisted that to this end the French must devote their 
entire energies. If Elizabeth would not agree to 
yield territories which she coveted, Maria Theresa, 
with better reason, was no more inclined to cede ter- 
ritories that were actually in her possession. It is 
doubtful if Charles had any real thoughts of entering 
a coalition, the object of which was to establish an- 
other son of the Spanish queen as an Italian prince, 
but the possibility of such an alliance was used to 
advantage in extorting favorable terms from Maria 
Theresa. 1 In these efforts Charles had the hearty 
cooperation of the English, and their activity in his 
behalf was little relished by Maria Theresa. It was 
with indignation that the queen listened to demands 
that she should cede an important piece of her Italian 
possessions to her dangerous neighbor of Sardinia. 
"If I am to be robbed," said the unhappy queen, "it 
may as well be by my enemies as by my friends. I 
had better make terms with my opponents than pay 
what is demanded by my defenders." 

These negotiations continued for some time, but 

* SinzendorfP said, wrote Capello, " Qualunque sia il maneggio 
della Sardegna con la Francia, egli non sa temere che unisca le 
sue truppe alle conquiste de Spagnuoli." 


Charles Emmanuel was not a man to be trifled with 
indefinitely. He finally agreed on the conditions of 
a treaty with France, and the English were informed 
that it would be signed forthwith unless his demands 
were acceded to without more delay. "My situation 
is peculiar," he remarked to the French ambassador 
with affable effrontery. "If my courtier arrives in 
time, I am the ally of England; if not, I am on your 
side."^ The pressure which the English brought 
upon Maria Theresa at last overcame her stubborn- 
ness, and in September, 1743, the treaty of Worms 
was signed. By it Charles Emmanuel obtained from 
Austria the promise of Piacenza, Pavia, and exten- 
sive territories by the Po, in return for his promised 
aid, and his lot was cast with the enemies of France. 
Maria Theresa had no love for her new ally, and she 
bore a lasting grudge against the English for the zeal 
they displayed in obtaining concessions for him.^ It 
must be admitted that she received hard treatment. 
In return for the sacrifices she made to pacify Prus- 
sia and Sardinia, her allies bound themselves to vig- 
orous measures for the expulsion of the Bourbon 
princes from Italy, that the queen might have Naples 
as some compensation for her losses. ^ No sooner was 
the treaty signed than the Austrians prepared to in- 
vade the kingdom of the Two Sicilies, but neither her 
English nor her Piedmontese allies showed any incli- 
nation to cooperate. This was not the fitting time, 
they said, in reply to the protestations of her gen- 

^ Correspondance de Turin ^ 1743, Aff. Etr. 

^ See among other proofs of this her conversation with Robin- 
son reported by him, May 1, 1748, and her correspondence with 
Wasner and Kaunitz in 1743. 

^ Second secret article, treaty of Worms. 


erals, and the fitting time for their cooperation never 
came. Charles Emmanuel was paid to drive the 
Bourbons out of Italy; he kept the reward, and did 
not perform the work. 

Louis XV. 's zeal in behalf of Spain was increased 
when he found that the king of Sardinia had declined 
his overtures. It was just at that time that Louis 
took a more active part in the administration than 
ever before or after: Fleury had lately died; Mme. 
de Chateauroux incited her lover to prove himseK a 
king, to command in the field and control in the cabi- 
net. He promptly assured Philip that the French 
army would join that of Spain and punish the perfidy 
of the king of Sardinia, and he kept his word.^ In 
October, 1743, a treaty between France and Spain 
was signed at Fontainebleau which was the second of 
the series of family compacts. The treaty of 1733 
had been framed under the guidance of Chauvelin, a 
diplomat of experience; the second was largely the 
handiwork of the king himseK, and it assumed obli- 
gations far more serious. Their full accomplishment 
was impossible, and even the attempt at performance 
imposed serious and disastrous burdens upon France. 
But the king was anxious to advance the interests of 
his family, and Fleury was no longer present to insist 
that France should not be sacrificed to the demands 
of Spain. "I have the establishment of Don Philip 
as much at heart as your majesty," Louis wrote his 
uncle, and he was ready to concede whatever was 
asked. "This alliance being according to my heart," 
he wrote again, "I have consented with pleasure to 
whatever the prince of Campo Florido has proposed." 

1 Louis to Philip, September 20, 1743, Aff. Etr. " Pour tirer 
vengeance d'uue aussi noire perfidie." 



"You will see," said the minister for foreign affairs, 
writing to the French ambassador at Madrid, "that 
it is all for the advantage of Spain, but his majesty 
makes no distinction between the interests of the 
king of Spain and his own." ^ 

The treaty of Fontainebleau, like that of Escurial 
which had been so soon violated, was declared to be 
an eternal family compact, which should bind more 
closely the ties of blood, and assure the splendor of 
two monarchies. It contained no stipulation of any 
sort for France, except that Sj^ain should be her 
ally, but the provisions made for the Spanish infante 
were all that even his mother could demand. Her 
oldest son Carlos was now king of the Sicilies, and it 
was the second son, Don Philip, for whom provision 
was made. Don Philip had a double claim upon the 
affection of Louis XV. : he was his cousin, and by his 
recent marriage he had become the king's son-in-law. 
Louis was fond of his children, and he had now to 
provide for his daughter as well as for a prince of the 
Bourbon family. 

By the treaty of Fontainebleau it was agreed that 
Don Philip should become the ruler of Parma, Pia- 
cenza, and of the duchy of Milan; he w^ould, if it 
had been carried into effect, have been the most pow- 
erful prince in Italy, and to obtain for him these 
great possessions was declared in the treaty itself to 
be the chief object for which it was made. In ad- 
dition to this, Gibraltar was to be conquered from 
England, the English colony of Georgia was to be 
destroyed, as injurious to the Spanish possessions in 
Florida, and the French bound themselves to make no 
peace imtil aU these objects had been fully accom- 
1 Amelot to Reniies, October 26, 1743. 


plished.^ The treaty of Fontainebleaii shared the fate 
of all the family compacts, — it was never executed; 
but the efforts made to obtain even a part of all that 
France had promised compelled her to continue an 
improfitable struggle for years, and to sacrifice the 
advantages she might have gained in the war of the 
Austrian Succession. 

However improvidently the obligation had been 
incurred, it came into the hands of a rigorous cred- 
itor, who raised loud cries of perfidy and abandonment 
if ever she saw the slightest abatement in the efforts 
to obtain its entire execution. The years which had 
passed since the war of the Polish Succession had not 
weakened Elizabeth's hold on the reins of Spanish 
government, nor did Philip's intellect become more 
vigorous as he approached the end of his life. One 
spirit ruled in Spain, and it was that of the queen. ^ 
The interviews between the French ambassadors and 
the Bourbon king seem like scenes of comedy. None 
were held at which the queen was not present, and 
the part taken by her husband was a humble one. 
She poured out her views with an impetuosity that 
allowed of no interruption, but when she paused a 
moment for breath the king would sometimes inter- 

^ This treaty, like the " pacta de famille " of 1733, was kept 
secret. It is found in Cor. d'Espagne, 474, 375-381, with an 
additional article, pp. 406, 433. The treaty allowed France to 
recover some unimportant towns ceded by the Peace of Utrecht. 
" Le fruit passager de la colore et de la partiality," is the de- 
scription of the treaty by a French minister two years later. 
Cor. d'Esp., 488, 203. Its engagements, he adds, were ruinous 
and without advantage to France, and the same thing could be 
said of the three family compacts between the sovereigns of 
the two countries. 

^ Vaur^al to Argenson, October 19, 1744. 


ject, "That is so; that is certainly true ; " occasion- 
ally, after first carefully inspecting the face of his 
spouse to see if her countenance indicated approval, 
he ventured a suggestion of his own, which she would 
then expound more at length.^ 

The bishop, who for many years represented France 
at the court of Madrid, has drawn a picture of this 
autocrat in no flattering terms. Vain without dig- 
nity, avaricious without economy, and violent without 
courage, she had neither wit, nor judgment, nor grace ; 
even her virtue, of which she made such constant 
boast, the critic said, had never been put to the test 
of temptation. 2 The portrait was drawn by an un- 
friendly hand, but it is certain that Elizabeth's char- 
acter was harsh and violent, and it is equally certain 
that she bore no love for France. In this, if in no- 
thing else, she shared the feelings of her subjects. 
Forty years of the rule of a Bourbon prince had not 
made the Spaniards love France: it was impossible 
that a Spaniard should truly like the French, their 
minister wrote despondently; from the highest to the 
lowest, they learned to hate the French as they learned 
to love a bull fight. ^ 

These national antipathies were little considered by 
those who thought to make Spain the faithful ally of 
France by giving her a Bourbon king, but they made 
futile the schemes of statesmen. In no people was 
the feeling of nationality stronger than among the 
Spanish: if a Bourbon ruler would become a Sj^an- 
iard, he could gain the affection of his subjects, but 
they resented the presence of French officials, the 

^ Rennes to Amelot, September, 1743, et pas. 
2 Vaurdal to Argenson, July 26, 1746. 
8 Ih., August 26, 1746. 


existence of French customs, or the influence of 
French politics. It must be said that after the death 
of Louis XIV. they had little cause to complain of 
Philip V. in this regard. 

When the treaty of Fontainebleau was signed, 
Charles VII. was still alive, and the French were 
engaged in the effort to keep on the imperial throne 
the monarch whom they had placed there. But in 

1745, Charles ended his melancholy career of defeat 
and disappointment, and it was certain that the throne 
of the Caesars would again become the patrimony of 
the House of Austria. As the French sought no con- 
quests for themselves, they had then nothing left to 
fight for except the possessions in Italy desired for 
Don Philip. It required years of obstinate conflict 
to obtain them. Maria Theresa was stubborn in the 
defense of her possessions, she was ambitious, and she 
was pious; it was revolting to her pride that the 
power of Austria should be lessened during her reign; 
she believed that she was the lawful ruler of provinces 
and principalities of which unscrupulous enemies were 
seeking to despoil her, and she had implicit confidence 
that the God of battles would at last protect her 
rights against the unjust practices of wicked men. 

"Our zeal for the welfare of Spain," wrote the 
French secretary for foreign affairs, ere the long war 
had been brought to an end, "has extended even to 
the sacrifice of our own interests." "If we were not 
charged with obtaining a principality for Don Philip," 
he writes again, plaintively, after the victories of 
Maurice de Saxe, "we might keep our conquests in 
Flanders for ourselves." ^ It was not strange that he 

^ Argenson to Vaur^al, Jiily 13, 1745 ; to Kemies, June 4, 

1746, Aff. Etr., Esp., 457, 488. 


wished some means might be devised to induce the 
Spanish to abandon the French alliance, and said that 
posterity would find it hard to decide whether the 
effort to destroy Spain had cost France as much as 
the effort to protect her.^ 

^ Argenson to Vaur^al, 1745,^905.; to Rennes, October 16, 
1746, Aff. Etr.y Esp. 



The prosperity of tlie arms of Maria Theresa 
aroused an old enemy, and one more dangerous than 
the decrepit king of Spain. When Frederick obtained 
the cession of Silesia by the treaty of Breslau in 1742, 
he promised to take no further part in the war against 
Austria. That treaty had been scrupulously observed 
by the Austrian court, but Frederick had little respect 
for treaties himself, and little confidence in the fidel- 
ity of others to their obligations ; he believed that if 
Maria Theresa had the power she would wrest Silesia 
from him, and in this belief he was undoubtedly right. 
The queen of Hungary had agreed to the peace of 
Breslau because the English intimated that at some 
future day she might get back her stolen property ; 
she would certainly have felt that in retaking Silesia 
she was righting the wrong, punishing an evil-doer, 
and obtaining for that province the blessing of a 
lawful ruler and the ascendency of the true faith. 

The news of the battle of Dettingen aroused Fred- 
erick from the tranquil enjoyment with which he had 
watched his former allies and enemies exhausting each 
other's resources. " I am annoyed at the news which 
I have received from Hanover," he writes to Podewils. 
"You will see the account of the battle which my 
uncle — may the devil take him — has won from the 
French." ^ His fears were at once excited for Silesia. 
1 Frederick to PodewUs, July 3, 1743. 


" When peace is made," he adds in the same letter, 
" I fear they will want to pare off something from our 

These apprehensions, which appear constantly in 
his correspondence, were increased when he discovered 
the terms of the treaty of Worms. By that instru- 
ment many other treaties were confirmed, but Freder- 
ick noticed the ominous omission of any reference to 
that of Breslau.i As he was no party to the negotia- 
tions at Worms, such an omission would not seem 
strange, but the king was by nature in the highest 
degree suspicious. In a private memorandum he bal- 
anced the reasons for believing that the Austrians 
and English were acting towards him in good or in 
bad faith, and he unhesitatingly decided that they 
were actuated by the most sinister purposes. " I 
should be deceiving myself," he wrote his minister, 
" to put any confidence in the honeyed words of the 
court of Vienna, or to believe that they have any good 

^ Politische Correspondenz, iii. 26, 69, et pas. The guarantee 
is in the second article of the treaty, and secures to the three 
nations joining in it their possessions as established by various 
other treaties. It would have been as foreign to the matter in 
hand to guarantee Silesia to Prussia as Alsace to France, but 
Frederick was alert in finding justification for a policy to which 
he was inclined. In truth, there was no ground for his com- 
plaints. A secret article recited the treaty of Breslau and the 
English guarantee of it, and this was among the reasons for 
England's agreement to obtain for Maria Theresa, if possible, 
some compensation for the losses she had sustained. The va- 
lidity of the treaty of Breslau, and its guarantee by England, 
was therefore recognized. It is possible Frederick did not know 
of this secret article, though he was usually well informed, but 
it is not probable that anything contained in or omitted from the 
treaty of Worms affected his conduct. He decided that to 
recommence hostilities would be to his advantage, and he gave 
such reasons for liis determination as he saw fit. 


intentions toward me. . . . They never pardon when 
they believe that they have been wronged." ^ 

Frederick bore no love to France, but it was not for 
his interest that the humiliation of that country should 
increase the power of Maria Theresa. In the latter 
part of 1743, his representatives at Versailles inti- 
mated that if proper inducements coidd be offered 
their master he might be induced to take a hand 
again in the contest against Austria. Frederick could 
claim no violation of the treaty of Breslau, but there 
was little trouble in finding a pretext for war. Imme- 
diately after the battle of Dettingen he wrote Pode- 
wils, "Next year, when our flutes are tuned, the 
emperor must solicit me to send a contingent for the 
succor of the empire. All will be done in his name." ^ 

Not only did Frederick desire a pretext, but he did 
not wish to recommence war without some hope of 
gain. He wrote his representative at Paris to inti- 
mate that thus far the inducements of personal advan- 
tage offered his master had not been sufficiently great 
to induce him to undertake new enterprises, " but you 
will touch on this very delicately," said Frederick. 
He was naturally apprehensive of the rancor that 
might remain from his desertion of the common cause 
two years before. " Will the king ever forgive me 
for making a separate peace ? " he asked. The French 
had no wish to discourage a powerful ally by criti- 
cising his past conduct. " A great state," said their 
minister at Berlin, " does not know the feeling of ven- 
geance ; it considers only its own interest." Thus 
encouraged, the Count of Kothenburg labored with 
those most closely associated with the king of France 

1 Letter of October 26, 1743. 

2 Pol. Cor., ii. 409. 


to urge the expediency of a fresh treaty with Prussia, 
and a renewed invasion of Germany. Disregard- 
ing the minister of foreign affairs, Rothenburg dis- 
cussed these matters with Richelieu and Tencin, and 
he chatted over the political situation at little suppers 
with the king and Mme. de Chateauroux.^ Maria 
Theresa has long been reviled by historians for a 
letter which she was supposed to have written to Mme. 
de Pompadour a few years later in order to enlist her 
in favor of an Austrian alliance against the king of 
Prussia. " Though the haughtiest of princesses," says 
Macaulay, she " condescended to flatter the low-bom 
and low-minded concubine." Later research has shown 
that no such letter was written, but if it had been, 
Maria Theresa might have pleaded that many sover- 
eigns had sought to avail themselves of the influence 
of the mistress of a king, and foremost among them 
Frederick the Great. Mme. de Chateauroux's war- 
like ambition for her lover was known, and Frederick 
was sagacious enough to realize how valuable would be 
her influence. Not only did his envoy discuss with 
her the projects for an alliance and the plans for 
campaigns, but Frederick honored her with a letter 
by his own hand. " I am flattered," he wrote, " that 
I owe to you in part the inclination of the king of 
France to unite again the bonds of an eternal alliance 
between us. The esteem which I have always felt for 
you is mingled with my sentiments of gratitude. It 
is unfortunate that Prussia cannot know what it owes 
you, but this sentiment will remain profoundly im- 
pressed on my heart. Always your affectionate friend, 
Frederick." ^ 

^ Letters cited in Droysen, ii. 269. 

2 Frederick to Mme. de Chateauroux, May 12, 1744. 


The negotiations in which the mistress of Louis 
XV. earned the gratitude of Frederick the Great 
resulted in three treaties, and by one of them various 
of the German states, together with France, agreed 
to unite for the pacification of Germany and the 
restoration of Bavaria to the emperor. 

It was in behalf of the oppressed Charles VII. that 
the Prussian king now professed to take up arms, but 
Frederick's hard common sense never allowed him to 
waste his money or the lives of his soldiers in behalf 
of any one except himself. The affronts offered by 
Maria Theresa to the head of the empire seemed 
sacrilegious to Charles, but they left Frederick calm ; 
the real incentive for bis conduct was found in a 
secret treaty with France. By this Frederick was to 
conquer Bohemia, and as a reward for his services he 
was to receive the portion of Silesia which had not yet 
been ceded him and a considerable slice from Bohemia. 
These concessions were ratified by the emperor, though 
very reluctantly. Unless Frederick conquered Bohemia 
for him he had as little chance of reigning at Prague 
as at Vienna, but his soul was filled with illusions, and 
only with great pains could he be brought to relin- 
quish his claim on any part of the kingdom as the 
price of getting the rest of it.^ By this treaty the 
French agreed to invade Germany and make no peace 
until Frederick's gains were assured. With the growth 
of a national German sentiment, a sovereign who smn- 
moned French armies to violate the German soil 
would be deemed a traitor to the Fatherland, but 
Frederick did not share this feeling ; he was a Prus- 
sian, and if he could increase the power of his own 
kingdom, he was indifferent whether his end was 
^ Tagebuch, 127. 


obtained by German armies invading France or French 
armies invading Germany.^ 

It was not until June, 1744, that these treaties were 
signed.2 Before that the nations which had long been 
fighting at last declared war. Up to this time France 
had taken part in the hostilities as the ally of the 
emperor, and England as the ally of Maria Theresa. 
While French, English, and Austrian soldiers were 
actively engaged in killing one another, their coun- 
tries professed to be at peace. Now that Charles 
had declared himseK a neutral, three great nations 
were engaged in a bitter conflict, while nominally 
they had nothing to fight about. This farce was at 
last ended. In the spring of 1744, France declared 
war upon England and Austria, and they issued 
coimter-proclamations, by which each nation exposed 
the wickedness of the other. This exchange of wordy 
hostilities did no one any harm, but the French took 
a step that might have had more practical effect when 
they planned an invasion of England. 

It would be curious to know the number of times 
that such an invasion has been contemplated, but 
since the days of William the Conqueror all such 
schemes have come to naught; it is not strange 
that an undertaking which Napoleon was obliged to 
abandon was not carried into successful execution 
by Louis XV. 

It was a condition of the treaty of Utrecht that the 

1 Frederick's letters are full of reproaches against his French 
allies, because they did not manifest sufficient vigor in the inva- 
sion of German soil. Pol. Cor., iii. 284, 294; iv. 60 et pas. 

2 The union of Frankfort was signed in May. Two other 
treaties were made, one between Prussia, France, and the em- 
peror, and one between France and Prussia. 


Pretender should be expelled from France. The en- 
mity of George I. chased him from Lorraine and from 
Avignon, and in 1717 James Stuart at last found a 
peaceful refuge in Rome. There he lived for many- 
years, giving much of his time to prayer, impressing 
those who saw him with the courteous dignity of his 
manners, but disclosing his character in his face, 
which was, says an observer, both sad and silly. The 
wisest course for France to have pursued with the 
Stuarts would have been to let them alone, but such 
had not been her policy in the past. No experience 
of the futility of Jacobite plots discouraged those 
who hoped to see again Catholic sovereigns on the 
English throne, and the cause of the Stuarts had now 
an influential advocate in Cardinal Tencin, who owed 
his promotion to the influence of the Pretender ; the 
idea of diverting the attention of the English from 
a Continental war to the defense of their own coun- 
try was suggested by him, and was adopted by the 
French government. James Stuart himself was 
weary of adventure, but his son, Charles Edward, 
was eager to respond to the suggestion that he should 
accompany an expedition having for its object the 
restoration of his family to the throne. On January 
9, 1744, he left Rome. Disguised as a courier, and 
accompanied by only one attendant, he made the 
long journey in hot haste and reached Paris in eleven 
days.^ He was not received by the French king, but 
he went to Gravelines and there remained in con- 
cealment. These efforts at secrecy were of no avail ; 
if the hiding-place of the prince was concealed, it was 
the only thing about the proposed expedition that was 

^ An account of Charles Edward's departure from Rome is 
found in an appendix to Stanhope's History of England. 


not known to England and all Europe, and the pro- 
ject had the effect of exciting the English to greater 
enthusiasm for the war. The Parliament voted ten 
million pounds for supplies ; the Habeas Corpus act 
was suspended ; the English rallied to the defense of 
their king against foreign invasion, and disliked the 
French a little more than before. 

While such were the effects produced in England 
by this project, it was equally injurious to French 
interests in Germany. Chavigny was at Frankfort, 
trying to form an alliance with the princes of the 
empire, and furnished with money with which to pur- 
chase the aid of these mercenaries ; but the news of the 
contemplated invasion discouraged Protestant states 
which, though inclined to espouse the French cause, 
had no desire for a Catholic restoration in England.^ 

The year before, the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel 
had sold six thousand of his subjects for the use of 
the English ; he was now ready to make a similar 
bargain with the French, but his son had married an 
English princess, and he would not assist in expelling 
the House of Hanover from England. " Drive away 
this phantom of a Pretender," wrote Chavigny ; " I 
have lost all confidence in these Jacobites, if I ever 
had any. They are good for nothing but to ruin 
themselves and those who act with them."^ 

These remonstrances were not heeded. Fifteen 
thousand men gathered at Dunkirk, and boats for 
transport were collected from every port. The com- 
mand of the expedition was given to Maurice de 
Saxe, and he was bidden to disembark his troops 
in "the river of London," by which was meant the 

1 Cor. de Baviere, January 20, 1744. 

2 lb., March, 1744. 


Thames. " As soon as they land," said the confident 
instructions, "a revohition will break out, and suc- 
cess will be certain." ^ Maurice was directed to 
advance with his army as in a friendly country, and 
was assured that the supplies furnished by the affec- 
tionate subjects of King James would be all that his 
troops required. Every one was charmed with this 
great project, wrote the Paris chronicler, and the 
superstitious derived much comfort from a prophecy 
of Nostradamus, which declared that in this year 
London would tremble.^ The fortune of the Stuarts 
attended the expedition, and there was no opportunity 
to see whether the French ministers were better in- 
formed as to English sentiment than they were as to 
the names of English rivers. On the 1st of March, 
when the troops began to embark, a furious tempest 
arose ; Maurice tried in vain to set sail ; some of the 
transports were lost, and the endeavor had to be 
postponed. On March 4 another attempt was made, 
and again it was prevented by a storm. " Evidently 
the winds are not Jacobite," wrote Maurice.^ In the 
mean time, the English fleet under Admiral Norris 
had appeared in the Channel, and any chance of a 
successful landing on the English coast was de- 
stroyed. The expedition was postponed, and soon 
afterward it was finally abandoned. Charles Edward 
returned sadly to Paris, and in April Maurice, now 
Marshal Saxe, changed the unsubstantial hopes of 
victory in England for the realities of victory in the 
Low Countries. 

In the spring of 1744, Louis carried out his design 

1 Mem., February, 1744. 

2 Barbier, iii. 495. 

8 Cited in Taillandier, Maurice de Saxe. 


of appearing in person at the head of his soldiers, 
and this step was accompanied by a resolve to carry- 
on the war with new vigor; the entire force under 
arms was increased to three hundred thousand men ; 
additional taxes were imposed, though even with them 
there was a deficiency of one hundred million francs 
a year. But an exhibition of activity on the part of 
the sovereign, an awakening from the torpid indif- 
ference in which his life had been spent, was so agree- 
able to the people that these demands for men and 
money were responded to with cheerfulness. At last 
we have a king, was the universal saying, and the 
nation was enthusiastic in his support. The plans 
of the campaign excited also the confidence of the 
troops ; they were not to be sent on long and painful 
excursions to Bohemia or Bavaria ; they were to carry 
on war where there was more chance of victory and 
less danger of starvation. 

The forces which now entered the Netherlands were 
under the nominal command of Louis XV., and the 
monarch had for his counselors Marshals Noailles 
and Saxe. The French army was one hundred thou- 
sand strong, while the allies were not able to muster 
over fifty thousand, and could offer no effective resist- 
ance. The English endeavored to obtain aid from 
Holland and from Prussia, but without success. The 
Dutch were indeed alarmed by the presence of French 
armies in their neighborhood, but the disastrous expe- 
riences of the war of the Spanish Succession had de- 
stroyed any taste for fighting among these peaceful 
burghers. In that war, Holland had borne a large 
share of the cost and had reaped little of the benefit; 
the contest had left her crippled and enfeebled, and 
since then England had far outstripped her former 


rival for commercial supremacy. The Dutch now felt 
no inclination to risk an invasion by declaring war on 
France. They received pacific counsels from their 
ambassador in Paris who, from his taste for moral 
apothegms, was nicknamed the Plato of Holland. In 
an era of unscrupulous intrigue, the worthy Van Hoey 
excited amusement instead of veneration among his 
colleagues. His dispatches were intercepted, and it 
was with delight that a communication was read by 
skeptical and scheming politicians in which the worthy 
man wrote his government : " It is said that this ad- 
vance of the French into the Low Countries causes 
great embarrassment to the republic. You have but 
to follow the lessons of prudence contained in verses 
28 to 32 of the 14th chapter of the Gospel according 
to St. Luke. The course suggested in the last two 
verses can be followed by the republic with entire 
confidence." ^ When their high mightinesses turned 
to the verses in question they found this judicious 
advice : " Or what king, going to make war against 
another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth 
whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him 
that Cometh against him with twenty thousand ? Or 
else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth 
an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace." 
They were so far influenced by these scriptural coun- 
sels that they decided not to declare war for the 
present, but contented themselves with sending an 
embassy to meet Louis, which received from him very 
scant satisfaction. 

In another quarter, where the English applied for 
assistance, they were sure not to have Scripture quoted 
to them. By the treaty of Breslau, England had 
» Van Hoey, April 24, 1744. 


guaranteed Silesia to Frederick, and he in turn 
agreed to assist George II. against any attack upon 
his dominions. He was now asked to fulfill this 
agreement, but he met the request in his usual 
mocking vein. Assuming to believe that George 
was alarmed by the threatened expedition of the 
Pretender, he said that if England were invaded he 
would embark at once with an army of thirty thou- 
sand men, under his own command, and hasten to the 
aid of his royal uncle. ^ The English minister, little 
pleased by such badinage, replied that his master was 
quite able to defend himself at home ; what he asked 
of Frederick was to perform his agreement and fur- 
nish troops to protect Hanover against the possibility 
of invasion. This was exactly what Frederick had no 
thought of doing. Hyndford was informed that the 
Prussian king's health required him to visit a water- 
ing-place, and this request could not be considered 
until his return. 

Thus the French were left with a large superiority 
in numbers, and the presence of their king encour- 
aged and stimulated the troops. Louis took kindly 
to his new duties and made himself popular in the 
army. He interested himself in the details of the 
service, visited the hospitals, and tasted the bread 
and soup of the soldiers ; he appeared in the trenches 
and encouraged the men at their work.^ The French 
made rapid progress : Menin surrendered after a siege 
of a few days, and Ypres and Furnes soon followed 
the example. But while the king was imitating Louis 
XIV. as a conqueror, he was desirous of following his 
ancestor's example in other respects. When the great 

1 Pol. Cor., iii. 104 et pas. 

2 Broglie, Frederic II. et Louis XV., ii. 266-270. 


monarch made his triumphal marches through the Low 
Countries, he was accompanied by all the splendor of 
his court ; he took his mistresses with him and no one 
ventured to complain, not even his wife ; they had not 
been regarded as unseemly features in the pomp that 
surrounded the " sun king." Louis XV. cared less 
for splendor than his ancestor, but he cared more for 
pleasure, nor was he the only one who desired that 
Mme. de Chateauroux should share his martial glory. 
Richelieu and Tencin were loath to leave the king 
with no one by him to counteract the influence of 
Noailles ; the mistress herself feared the baleful ef- 
fects of absence. " Does the king seem to think of 
me?" she wrote Richelieu. "Does he speak of me 
often ? Is he impatient because he does not see me ? " ^ 

A step was decided upon which was sure to please 
the king, even though he did not venture to command 
it : Mme. de Chateauroux and her sister prepared to 
start for the scene of war. Even at this period some 
pretense of social decorum was required, but it was 
not difficult to find a lady of position to lend her 
countenance to such a project. The family of Conti 
was among the greatest in the kingdom, and the dowa- 
ger princess of Conti was a personage of exalted rank. 
The princess now announced that she was to visit her 
son-in-law in the army ; she selected for her attend- 
ants on the journey the Duchess of Chateauroux and 
her sister, and they soon joined the king. 

A change, which is rarely recognized, had come ov§r 
French feeling since the days of Louis XIV. When 
that monarch made his solemn entries in conquered 
cities, accompanied by his queen and his mistresses, 
it cannot be fairly said that such displays excited any 
1 Letters to Richelieu, June 3, 1744, cited by Broglie. 


general disapprobation ; some jested, a few lamented, 
but the great majority held that a king who equaled 
Solomon in wisdom and splendor could properly imi- 
tate that monarch in other respects. Though Louis 
XV. was a less imposing figure than his ancestor, he 
was at this time quite as much beloved by the French 
people, but the monarch was no longer regarded as a 
person so sacred that his conduct could not be dis- 
cussed. While the age of Louis XV. is branded with 
special reprobation, it is doubtful if the standard of 
morality was any lower than a century before, and it 
is certain that criticism was much more severe. Even 
before the sisters left to rejoin the king, shrewd friends 
advised them to avert unfriendly criticism by giving 
liberally to charities, going regularly to mass, and 
conducting themselves with great modesty.^ Such 
precautions would have been unnecessary fifty years 
before ; they proved insufficient now. The arrival of 
Mme. de Chateauroux produced a most unfavorable 
effect on the army. There was not even a captain of 
cavalry, her friends complained, who did not assume 
to discuss her coming, and predict calamities for those 
who had advised it, and the letters from the army 
stimulated adverse criticism at Paris.^ The measures 
taken in behalf of the duchess show how unscrupu- 
lously the mails were ransacked, not only for purposes 
of the government, but at the request of any one who 
had influence enough to use government appliances 
for his own ends ; her friends told her that all letters 
coming from the army must be opened, and those 
containing any criticism on her conduct must be 
destroyed ; she must have in the service only men of 

1 Letter of Cardinal Tencin, June 7, 1744. 

2 Mem. de Tencin, June 19, 1744. 


whose fidelity she could be sure, and an unfortunate 
employee who dared not destroy a letter coming from 
so great a person as Marshal Saxe was condemned as 
faint hearted.^ 

Attention was diverted from such subjects by the 
news that France had been invaded by her enemies. 
Prince Charles of Lorraine, at the head of an Austrian 
army eighty thousand strong, advanced through Ger- 
many. The defense of the Rhine was intrusted to 
the decrepit Coligny, and the Austrians crossed the 
river practically without opposition. " At last we are 
in Alsace," Prince Charles wrote his brother ; " you 
may expect to hear from me next at Paris." ^ 

This put an end to the pleasant campaigning in 
Flanders. Louis declared that when the enemy were 
on French soil, it was for him in person to assist in 
repelling them; forty thousand were detached from 
the army in the Low Countries, and under the com- 
mand of the king himself they started for Alsace. 
Extra pay stimulated the soldiers to the utmost exer- 
tion, and on August 4 they arrived at Metz. 

While the king was hastening to repel Austrian 
invasion, Mme. de Chateauroux and her sister pur- 
sued him with equal celerity. 

On the 6th there was a great supper at Metz, the 
king drank deeply, and on the following day, either 
as the result of exposure or of debauchery, he was 
attacked by a malignant fever. The care of the in- 
valid was assimied by those who held the first place 
in his favor ; the two sisters watched by his bedside, 

^ Mem. de Tencin. " I ask him to suppress all letters coming 
from the army which speak ill of the voyage of Mme. de Cha- 
teauroux," the cardinal says. 

2 Letters cited by Arneth, iL 395, 549. 


while Richelieu excluded from the room all whose 
services were not absolutely required. But the fever 
grew rapidly worse ; alarming reports circulated as to 
Louis's condition. "The king is dying " was on every 
lip, " and no one has access to him except his mis- 
tress and her confidants." It was impossible that 
this should continue. The Count of Clermont and 
the Duke of Chartres sought to enter the king's cham- 
ber, while the Duke of Richelieu endeavored to keep 
them back. " Who is this valet who gives orders to 
the kinsmen of the king," cried the Duke of Chartres, 
as he forced his way into the room. The body of 
courtiers could no longer be excluded, but the king's 
condition grew none the better for their attendance. 
By the 11th it was thought that the end was near. 

Amid the confusion and dismay excited by this 
sudden and terrible illness, the clamor grew stronger 
against the mistress who had outraged decency by 
following Louis on his campaign, and had drawn him 
into dissipation which would probably cost him his 
life. It was no longer the coterie of Richelieu and 
Chateauroux which was triumphant ; the gallant duke 
and the beautiful duchess were overwhelmed in a tor- 
rent of popular indignation ; those evil companions, 
it was said, must be removed, and the king be recon- 
ciled to the Great Judge before whom he was soon to 

The friends of virtue had smaU chance of gaining 
the upper hand with Louis while he was in health and 
strength, but now death seemed near, hell was per- 
haps not far distant, and the king was eager to do all 
that his ghostly counselors advised. His conscience 
was usually under the charge of his confessor, Father 
Perusseau, a Jesuit, who had found it possible to keep 


the king in the path of salvation and to remain on 
friendly terms with the king's mistress. But the 
grand almoner now came forward and said that by 
virtue of his office he alone was entitled to administer 
extreme unction to the dying man. The almoner was 
Bishop of Soissons, a grandson of the famous Marshal 
Berwick, and a man of austere character and rigid 
morals. He refused to administer the sacrament 
until Mme. de Chateauroux and her sister were dis- 
missed. Such a demand met with no resistance from 
the terrified king, and Louis signed an order directing 
them to leave Metz forthwith. " Where shall they 
go ? " he was asked. *' Let them go to Paris," he re- 
plied ; "let them go anywhere, if only it is far away." 
Such was the feeling against the fallen mistress that 
she dared not be seen in Metz ; a friend lent his car- 
riage to the sisters and, with the curtains closely drawn, 
they made their way by stealth from the town.^ 

The grand almoner now felt justified in administer- 
ing the offices of the church to one whose penitence 
had been proved by his acts. Those who had the 
right to be in attendance on the king while he lived 
were also entitled to watch him when he was dying. 
Such a crowd of officers and courtiers filled the room 
while the extreme unction was administered, that we 
are told it looked like the parterre of the opera at a 
first representation .2 The Bishop of Soissons was 
resolved to have the cause of virtue publicly vindi- 
cated in the presence of this audience. Turning to 
the assemblage of nobles and officers he said in a loud 
voice, "The king has instructed me to state to you 
that he repents of the scandal he has caused, and that 

1 So stated in a letter of Mme. de Chateauroux. 

2 Relation cited by the Due de Broglie. 


lie has no thought of choosing Mme. de Chateauroux 
as superintendent of the establishment of the dau- 
phine." ^ " Nor of making her sister a lady in wait- 
ing," came in a weak voice from the bed, as Louis 
himself endeavored to complete the bishop's statement, 
— a protestation 'which strengthened suspicions that 
had long been entertained. A temporary gallery had 
connected the residence of the king with that occupied 
by Mme. de Chateauroux, and had given rise to evil 
jests among the public. Now that the duchess was 
gone, the gallery was harmless, but it was at once 
torn down, that the triumph of virtue might be mani- 
fest and complete. 

The news of the king's illness soon reached Paris, 
and it excited an outburst of grief and of passionate 
affection for the monarch such as has never again been 
witnessed in France. The French were still deeply 
attached to their sovereigns ; if Louis's early career 
had not aroused enthusiasm, they were ready to over- 
look its errors ; if he had done nothing, it was because 
Cardinal Fleury had done all. Now he was at the 
head of their armies ; he was attacked by a dangerous 
and perhaps a fatal illness when he was hastening to 
repel a hostile invasion. " He has died for us " was 
the universal cry among a people who were willing to 
forgive so much in their monarchs and to repay with 
an ardent affection any exhibition of courage or patri- 
otic devotion. Tears were seen in every eye ; the 
offices of the post were besieged by those asking for 
the news brought by the latest couriers ; the churches 
were filled with people praying for the king's restora- 

* This alluded to a rumor that this important position was soon 
to be bestowed on Mme. de Chateauroux as a further mark of 
the king's favor. 


tion to health ; at Notre Dame, services were held 
continuously during forty hours to propitiate the 
Divine mercy.^ 

Louis had sent word that his wife and son should 
come to Metz, but the royal vehicles were so cumber- 
some and the royal retinue so extensive, that it was 
only with much difficulty that they could be started. 

The party were obliged to move in three detach- 
ments at intervals of six hours, while eighty horses 
were needed for each relay. Notwithstanding the de- 
lay caused by the requirements of court etiquette, 
the queen at last reached Metz. She found that the 
crisis had passed, and the king was on the road to re- 
covery. The physicians had ordered frequent bleed- 
ings, and these, in connection with the fever, had 
brought Louis almost to the grave ; at last, in despair, 
a quack was allowed to give him a pill, and at once 
he began to mend. 

The grief which had been caused by the king's ill- 
ness at Paris was followed by a corresponding out- 
burst of joy when it was known that the danger was 
past. For days the celebrations continued : the houses 
were magnificently decorated, at night all the streets 
were ablaze with lights, never had such illuminations 
been seen, the streets of St. Denis, St. Martin, and 
St. Honore became marvels of beauty, Te Deums were 
sung, fireworks blazed, on the Port Neuf wine was 
running free of cost, and bread and sausages were 
given away to the hungry.^ A priest declared the 
king to be Louis the well-beloved, and this was caught 
up all over France ; to Louis the great succeeded 

^ The best account of the feeling at Paris is found in the 
Journal de Barhier, t. iii. 

^ For all this see Journal de Barhier. 


Louis the beloved.^ The expression continued to be 
applied to the king by court poets and chaplains long 
after he had become an object of hatred and contempt 
to almost the whole French nation. 

The joy of the people was shared by the queen. 
She found her husband alive and penitent, and asking 
pardon of her for his offenses ; her rivals had been 
sent about their business amid the hootings of the 
populace ; in the future, the king, whom a miracle 
had saved from the grave, would lead a praiseworthy 
and Christian life. 

While such were the hopes of the friends of virtue, 
those who constituted what we may call the party of 
vice, with a more accurate knowledge of the king's 
character, felt sure that the only thing necessary for 
their final triumph was that Louis's life should be 
spared. The Duchess of Chateauroux and her sister 
had a melancholy journey back to Paris. Wherever 
they were recognized, they were greeted with invec- 
tives and coarse insults. At Bar le Due they nearly 
encountered the cortege of the queen on the road for 
Metz ; the duchess concealed herself in a retired house 
to escape the contumely and even the danger which 
might result from such a meeting. But her heart did 
not fail her, and she knew well the character of the 
man who had exposed her to insults and disgrace 
when he was afraid of dying, and who would be sure 
to pursue her again when his fears had passed away. 
" So long as the king is feeble," she wrote her adviser, 
the Duke of Richelieu, " he will continue devout, but 
when he is better I wager that I will run furiously in 
his head. I do not see that the future is all dark if 
the king recovers. If we escape from this, you will 
^ LuyneSf ix. 117. The priest was the Abbd Josset. 


agree that our star will carry us far." She had judged 
her royal lover rightly. As Louis grew stronger his 
piety grew weaker ; he began to yearn again for the 
pleasures to which he was accustomed, and to look 
with unfriendly eyes on those who made such public 
proclamation of his future virtue. Even at the time, 
all had not approved of the zeal of the Bishop of Sois- 
sons in proclaiming Louis's repentance. "The con- 
duct of the Bishop of Soissons is regarded as the 
most noble thing in the world," writes Barbier with 
his usual bourgeois good sense. " Already he is made 
Archbishop of Paris and cardinal. For myself, I re- 
gard this conduct as very indecent. For what serves 
all this ecclesiastical parade ? It was enough if the 
king had a sincere repentance for what he had done." ^ 
Certainly, to justify this public and pompous announce- 
ment of a reformed life, one should have been sure 
that the future would verify it, and with a character 
like that of Louis XV. it was certain that the future 
would belie it. 

The king soon tired of the queen's society, and he 
asked her with his habitual brusqueness when she in- 
tended to return to Versailles.^ She recognized the 
symptoms of his ill will, and left the same night. The 
officious almoner discovered that he had not taken the 
road to royal favor. Neither archbishop nor cardinal 
was he to be. The wise Bishop of Rennes had sur- 
rendered his apartment at Versailles for the use of 
the mistress, and he enjoyed the sovereign's good will ; 
the foolish Bishop of Soissons demanded her dismissal : 
he was now ordered to go to his diocese and stay there. 

Inexperienced as Louis was in military affairs, he 

' Journal de Barbier, August, 1744. 
* Mem. de Brancas, 102. 


could be of little service to veteran generals when 
well, yet his illness had a blighting influence on the 
French arms ; the uncertainty as to the king's re- 
covery and as to the changes in administration that 
might follow his death paralyzed the energies of the 
commanders of the army by the Rhine. 

Fortunately for the French, Prince Charles, the 
Austrian leader, was not a dangerous opponent. He 
was an amiable man and a fair officer, and he was the 
brother-in-law of Maria Theresa. The queen dis- 
played no especial sagacity in the choice of her gen- 
erals ; having entire confidence that the Lord would 
assure victory to her righteous cause, she was largely 
influenced by personal feelings in the selection of 
those who were to carry out the decrees of the Al- 
mighty. Earlier in the war she had been anxious to 
furnish her husband opportunities for military dis- 
tinction, and when it was apparent that he would 
gather a very moderate crop of laurels on the bat- 
tlefield, she wished his brother to have the glory 
of invading France. The invasion would have had 
more important results if it had been conducted by 
a different leader. 

On July 3, the entire Austrian army triumphantly 
crossed the Rhine, with bands playing martial airs, 
but they made slow progress on the west bank, and it 
was soon evident that it would be some time before 
Prince Charles could send bulletins from Paris. He 
was afraid to venture far from the river, lest his re- 
treat should be cut off, and any hopes of aid from the 
inhabitants of Lorraine, who had so lately been the 
subjects of his family, were soon dispelled. A year 
before, the Austrian General Mentzel had issued a 
proclamation, in which he bade the people of Alsace 


and Lorraine to rise and shake off the unbearable 
burden of French tyranny, and threatened with fire 
and the sword those who refused to accept the bless- 
ings of German liberty and come to the aid of their 
lawful sovereigns. This proclamation met with no 
response. The inhabitants of those provinces showed 
no desire to change their nationality ; they wished to 
be French and did not desire to cast in their lot with 
Germany, and the people of Lorraine now made no 
response when their former rulers asked for their 

Though Prince Charles accomplished little on the 
left bank of the Rhine, he furnished an opportunity 
for action on Frederick's part. The Prussian king had 
signed a treaty of alliance with France in June, yet 
no one could say with certainty that he would actually 
decide to begin hostilities. His purposes changed 
rapidly, and if a different political position made it 
for his interest to remain tranquil, a treaty more or 
less would not affect his conduct. An invasion of 
France would not necessarily have disturbed him, but 
he did not desire to see Alsace and Lorraine added 
to the dominions of a queen who would always remain 
his bitterest enemy. Moreover, while the principal 
Austrian army was engaged beyond the Rhine, it was 
an excellent time for the invasion and perhaps the 
conquest of Bohemia ; if the attempt was to be made 
at all, there could be no better opportunity. For a 
while certainly, Frederick could only encounter in- 
ferior forces, and if the French generals showed the 
vigor to which he constantly incited them, it might be 
long before Prince Charles would be in condition to 
oppose the Prussian army. 

Frederick decided, therefore, that he would no 


longer remain a tranquil observer of the war, and he 
had abundant pretexts for again beginning hostilities. 
On August 13, 1744, he issued a manifesto in which 
he declared that he took up arms solely to protect the 
emperor from Austrian oppression, and in fulfillment 
of the duties imposed on him as a faithful member of 
the empire, to preserve its liberties and the dignity 
of its chief. No personal interest, he added, was 
involved in the renewal of the war ; for himself he 
asked nothing and wished nothing.^ Proclamations 
of this nature rarely keep closely to the truth ; by the 
treaties which had been made, the Prussian king had 
secured the promise of a large part of Bohemia as a 
reward for his services, and when the emperor grum- 
bled at the price, the king threatened to put an end 
to the negotiations if his demands were not complied 
with.2 Frederick cared little for the empire and less 
for the emperor ; the hope of new acquisitions and 
the fear that continued success would encourage Ma- 
ria Theresa to attempt the recovery of Silesia were 
the motives which led him to violate the treaty of 

1 Pol. Cor., iii. 242-245. 

2 Beilage zu Wasners Bericht, Tagehuch KarVs VII., 127. 

* That Frederick did not violate the treaty of Breslau in the 
hope of further aggrandizement is confidently maintained by 
Droysen and Ranke. Carlyle thinks that his hero always acted 
right, no matter what he did, or what his motives were. Arneth, 
on the other hand, ii. 401, says : " Dass die wahren Beweg- 
griinde des Konigs zum Bruche des Breslauer Friedens nur in 
seinem Begierde nach neuer und ansehnlicher Gebietsvergros- 
serung zu suchen sind, daruber wird kein Unparteischer dem 
leisten Zweifel sich hingeben konnen." This would be the opin- 
ion of most of those who did not think that a man with the in- 
tellect of a Frederick must necessarily have the character of a 
St. Louis. It certainly seems hard to believe that the king 


With his usual vigor he at once invaded Bohemia 
at the head of an army of eighty thousand men. This 
sudden attack was almost as complete a surprise to 
Maria Theresa as the first invasion of Silesia, and the 
indignation at Vienna was fierce. " He has neither 
faith, nor honor, nor religion," said the grand duke 
of his enemy ; " we must crush this devil so he can 
never again be an object of fear. It seems that God 
is arranging for the punishment of him who is the 
cause of so many evils." 

Frederick was little disturbed by such anathemas, 
and he made rapid progress in Bohemia. The Aus- 
trians had no army with which to oppose his advance. 
Early in September he was at Prague, and on the 16th, 
after a siege of six days, the city surrendered. For 
the second time in three years the citizens of that 
town were required to declare themselves subjects of 
Charles VII., king of Bohemia. The campaign had 
opened prosperously, but Frederick was now to en- 
counter for the first time the inconstancy of fortune. 
He had hoped that it would be long before the Aus- 
trians were strong enough to embarrass his movements, 
and it was with infinite disgust he learned that the 
army of Prince Charles was hastening to the scene of 

No sooner had Frederick invaded Bohemia than 
Maria Theresa felt constrained to postpone her visions 
of French conquest and recall Prince Charles for her 

took up arras in his zeal for the empire, or for the cause of 
Charles VII., in view of his frequent communications to his 
confidential adviser, in which he stated his apprehensions as to 
his own position, and then added with perfect frankness that the 
emperor must furnish the pretext, and that all would be done in 
his name. Pol. Cor.f ii. 409 et pas. 


own protection. Even before her orders reached him, 
the prince felt that if Prussia was again an enemy, 
his army was needed on German soil, and he decided 
to fall back. He did not find his retreat a difficult 
undertaking ; he had crossed the Rhine without oppo- 
sition, and he was allowed to recross it without loss or 
danger. This result could not be charged to any lack 
of attention on Frederick's part ; he was profuse in 
his exhortations to harass the Austrians on their re- 
treat, to oppose their crossing the Rhine, to delay in 
every way their return to Bohemia ; he could not even 
send a note of congratulation to Louis without add- 
ing a prophecy that the king would now add to his 
other glorious achievements the destruction of Prince 
Charles's army.^ If he anticipated such a result, he 
was doomed to a bitter disappointment. The army 
opposed to Charles was under the command of 
Noailles, and that respectable but not brilliant officer 
was not the man for bold and rapid movements ; in- 
tent on repelling Prince Charles's advance into France, 
he probably viewed his retreat with too much satis- 
faction to be zealous in interrupting it. On August 
23, the forces under Prince Charles began to recross 
the Rhine ; they proceeded undisturbed ; the entire 
army reached the right bank without loss, burned 
their boats, loaded the pontoons, and started tranquilly 
for Bohemia. It is quite probable that Noailles 
thought it wise to let Charles escape easily, — "to 
make a bridge of gold for the retreat," as he was 
charged with saying, — but he lost an opportunity to 
cripple the forces of Maria Theresa which did not 
again return. Frederick was enraged and with good 

1 Frederick to Louis, August 20, 1744 ; Pol Cor., iii. 220, 253, 


reason. " In God's name," he wrote Noailles,^ " I sup- 
plicate you to do what you can to put Seckendorff's 
army in condition to act with vigor in Bavaria ; " but 
nothing was done, and Prince Charles pursued his 
peaceful march towards Bohemia. Noailles was not a 
vigorous leader, and it must be said, moreover, that 
the abuse and ridicule which Frederick always poured 
liberally on those with whom he acted, and which 
was sure to come promptly to their knowledge, did 
not render them any the more inclined to follow his 
suggestions. The Prussian king was entirely selfish 
in his zeal for greater activity on the part of the 
French armies, but his advice was judicious, and he 
had reason to complain of the inefficiency of his allies ; 
an opportunity had been lost, he said, such as rarely 
occurred and might never return. " What can I expect 
from France?" he wrote Louis in his wrath, " or can 
I expect nothing at all ? " and he poured out his rage 
at the imbecility of French generals and the apathy 
of French ministers.^ 

By September Prince Charles reached Bohemia, 
and the Austrians were now superior in numbers to 
the Prussians. Unlike the venerable generals who 
conmianded the French armies, Frederick could never 
be charged with timidity or remissness, but his cam- 
paign in Bohemia was unfortunate and seems to have 
been ill advised. After the capture of Prague he 
marched south in the hope of pushing on to Vienna, 
but he was harassed by a hostile population ; he had 
anticipated less resistance than he encountered, and 
when opposed by an army equal to his own he did 
not display the generalship of his later years. His 

1 Frederick to Noailles, September 16, 1744. 

2 Pol. Car., iii. 284, 294, et pas. 


conduct was severely criticised by his adversaries. 
" God has blinded him," wrote Prince Charles to his 
brother ; " his movements are those of a fool." ^ The 
Austrians, under the prudent leadership of Marshal 
Traun, followed closely, while persistently refusing 
a battle. Frederick had trouble in obtaining supplies, 
and his position soon became perilous. His embar- 
rassments were increased by hearing that Saxony had 
declared against him, and had sent twenty thousand 
men to join the forces of Maria Theresa. " One should 
never ill treat an adversary by halves," said Freder- 
ick, and on another occasion he applied this maxim 
in his dealings with the Elector of Saxony. But now 
it was too late ; Silesia was threatened, and Frederick 
retreated from Bohemia with all possible haste in 
order to protect his own possessions ; as it was impos- 
sible to hold Prague, the Prussian garrison evacuated 
the city and made its way into Silesia, not without 
sustaining serious loss. " The devil took me into 
Bohemia," cried Frederick. Many years later, when 
his fame was secure, he wrote in his memoirs, " No 
general made more mistakes than the king in this 
campaign." ^ 

It was the first time that Frederick had encoun- 
tered any serious mishaps, and his pride was mortified ; 
he had scoffed unmercifully at the mistakes and dis- 
asters of his allies, and to share in similar calamities 
was in a high degree distasteful. At the same time, 
the dangers in which his unfortunate campaign had 
involved him proved the difficulties of further con- 

^ Charles to the grand duke, October 6, 1744. 

2 Mem. de ma vie, ch. x. See Cor. Pol. for 1744, and Relation 
de ma campagne sent to Louis. In this he said, " I made mis- 
takes which caused the failure of the whole campaign," iv. 345. 


quests, and decided him to make peace, if he coidd be 
assured of Silesia. Past experience showed that he 
would not delay in accepting satisfactory terms from 
any regard for his allies, and he at once asked the 
English to induce Maria Theresa to make peace with 
him. The French, on the other hand, continued to 
carry out their part under the treaty of alliance with 
much good faith and very little vigor, and no pro- 
cedure could have been more injudicious in an ally of 
Frederick. After Prince Charles had crossed the 
Rhine and made his way undisturbed into Bohemia, 
the French laid siege to Freiburg. It was a fortress 
of importance, and the siege was carried on in the 
dilatory fashion of the campaigns of Louis XV. ; in 
September the French, seventy thousand strong, en- 
camped before the city, and not until November did 
the citadel surrender. Immediately after this the 
French went into winter quarters and Louis returned 
to Paris. He stayed with the soldiers until Freiburg 
surrendered, but he was glad to be done with cam- 
paigning for the present ; he was somewhat weary of 
glory, and very weary of virtue. 

No sooner had he returned to Versailles than every 
one began to speculate whether the favorite, who had 
been so ignominiously driven from Metz, would again 
resume her position with the king. Not only court- 
iers but foreign sovereigns watched with attention the 
attitude of the Most Christian King towards his former 
sultana. Frederick had expressed his regret at her 
disgrace, and the Prussian ambassador wrote that her 
return would be most beneficial to Prussian interests.^ 

1 Charabrier to Frederick, November 6, 1744. Frederick to 
Schmettau, August, 1744 : " Je suis facL^ de la disgrace de 1» 
duchesse de Cbateauroux." 


Louis had already manifested his annoyance at the 
promises of reformation which had been drawn from 
him in his weakness, and at the proclamation of a 
changed heart, which had been so publicly made in 
his name. But the episode of Metz could not be for- 
gotten, and the king hesitated to show how promptly, 
when well, he returned to modes of life which he had 
piously abjured when ill. No one who knew his char- 
acter could doubt of the final result ; Mme. de Chateau- 
roux had been outraged by the ignominy of her dis- 
missal, and she now comforted herself with hopes of a 
speedy revenge upon her enemies. " The queen wishes 
to become a person of importance," she wrote Riche- 
lieu, "but this will not last long. I will have the 
health of a porter, so I can have time enough to 
punish my enemies, and punished they shall be, you 
may be sure of it." " If I return to favor, as I do 
not doubt I shall," she wrote again, discussing the 
Duke of Noailles, *' how I will hate him ; how I will 
persecute him. You need not talk ; I will overthrow 
him for good. I will make them see of whom they 
have been making sport." ^ She did not have long to 
wait for her restoration to favor. The king arrived 
from the army on the 14th of November, and two 
weeks later it was officially announced that Mme. de 
Chateauroux and her sister would again take posses- 
sion of their apartments at Versailles. " How they 
have treated us ! " exclaimed the favorite to Louis 
when they met for the first time after her expulsion 
from Metz.2 

In all this there was nothing very strange ; Louis 
XV. was not the first man who promised to reform 

^ Letters of Chateauroux to Richelieu, cited by Broglie. 
^ Mem. de Brancas, 105. 


when in fear of death, and thought better of the 
promise when he found himself restored to health ; 
in the seventeenth century, not to speak of prior cen- 
turies, one could find in the history of French kings 
abundant instances of immorality quite as scandalous 
as anything in the relations of Louis XV. and Mme. 
de Chateauroux. What was novel about this affair 
was the indignation and the public comment which it 
excited. It was this freedom of criticism, this im- 
patience of conduct and conditions which had long 
been viewed with tranquillity, that was new in the 
eighteenth century, and such feelings became more 
pronounced as the age advanced. Neither morals 
nor honesty were at any lower ebb at this period than 
often in the past, — in the latter part of the century 
there was unquestionable improvement ; the condition 
of the people was not worse than it had been, it was 
better ; the relics of feudal oppression were not more 
burdensome than they had been, they were less bur- 
densome ; taxation was no more grievous, legislation 
was more liberal, yet, in 1789, conditions which had 
been borne with resignation in the past produced a 
revolution that overthrew the whole political and social 
system. It is one of the symptoms of this change in 
public sentiment that in 1744 a storm of indignation 
was aroused by conduct against which a hundred 
years before no voice would have been raised. Not 
only would it have been hazardous to criticise the 
relapses of Louis XIV., such as his return to Mme. 
de Montespan after Bossuet's exhortations had led 
him to renounce her society, but such comments would 
have been deemed revolutionary, a sort of lese majesty ; 
a judgment upon the moral conduct of the sovereign 
would have been regarded as beyond the jurisdiction 
of a subject. 


It was not so in 1744. " This intelligence is revolt- 
ing to the whole population of Paris," writes a chron- 
icler. " The step is regarded as a terrible one. The 
Jansenists predict many calamities from it. The 
king, it is said, should not be less mindful of religion 
than a private man." ^ The chronicler of the court 
notes in similar terms the impression produced by the 
recall of the favorite. " Even Versailles," he says, 
" where usually people talk little on these subjects, has 
not been altogether free from such conversation." 
The discreet duke adds, indeed, " The most judicious 
keep silence." ^ This outcry of offended morality 
may not be regarded as very important ; but it is sig- 
nificant because for the first time we find such open 
and unsparing criticism, not of the government, but 
of the king himself. Nothing could be more unim- 
portant to posterity than whether a king had a mis- 
tress more or less, but when the public began to regard 
the sovereign, not as a superior being, to be loved and 
reverenced no matter what he did, but as a man to 
be judged and condemned, it marked a great change 
in public feeling. It was said that the market-women 
of Paris expressed their disapprobation of Louis's 
relapse from virtue by declaring that they would say 
no more paters for the king ; it is certain that when 
his life was again in danger there was no repetition 
of the universal grief which had been excited by his 
illness at Metz. 

Mme. de Chateauroux was not to enjoy the triumph 
over her enemies which she had so eagerly desired. 
On the day the king informed her that he regretted 
the indecency with which she had been treated at 

^ Journal de Barbier, November, 1744. 
* Mem. de Luynes, vi. 166 et pas. 


Metz and recalled her to his favor, she was attacked 
by a fever ; she grew rapidly worse, and on the 8th 
of December death ended the adventurous career of 
the favorite at the age of twenty-seven. Louis shed 
a few tears ; his tears always flowed easily, and were 
always soon dried. Even death did not lessen the 
public discontent; the duchess was buried without 
pomp; it was feared that the populace would not 
spare her coffin if the funeral were in the busy hours 
of the day ; very early her remains were carried 
through deserted streets to their final resting-place. 

Attention was soon diverted from the fate of the 
favorite to the death of a person of far more elevated 
station. When Frederick invaded Bohemia, the Em- 
peror Charles VII. was filled with a desire to profit 
by this diversion and establish himself again in his 
much loved Munich. The Austrian troops were with- 
drawn for the defense of Bohemia, and this enabled 
Charles to enjoy a few hours of triumph at the close 
of his career. He proceeded exultantly to his cap- 
ital. On the road he visited the Duke of Wurtem- 
berg and received the honors which were dear to his 
heart. The duke descended from his carriage and 
kissed the emperor's hand. "I extended it," says 
Charles, " but without descending from my carriage." ^ 
Though the emperor could not always pay his butch- 
er's bill, he never forgot his dignity. When he reached 
the palace all the family and followers of the duke 
came out to greet the illustrious guest, and with equal 
formality they attended his departure. On October 
23, 1744, he made his solemn entry into Mimich. 
The rule of his family had always been a kindly one, 
and through all his misfortunes Charles had been dear 
1 Tagehuch KarVs VII., 137, 138. 


to his people ; the streets were filled with men and 
women weeping with joy, as, amid the ringing of bells 
and the firing of camion, the emperor made his way 
to the palace of his ancestors. " My heart was full 
of the love I have for my, faithful subjects," wrote 
Charles, whose heart was as, good as his head was 
weak.^ These hours of triumph were brief. Freder- 
ick was obliged to retreat from Bohemia, and the Aus- 
trians again entered Bavaria. The emperor appealed 
pathetically to Louis to protect his capital from his 
enemies. Belle Isle visited Munich, and the unfor- 
tunate emperor wept in his arms at the prospect of 
having again to undergo the bitterness of exile. But 
the French had advised him not to reoccupy Munich, 
and they were not inclined to send a powerful army 
far from France in the hope of repelling the Austrian 
advance. " I cannot neglect the security of my own 
frontiers," answered Louis ; " while I understand the 
fondness of your majesty for your capital, yet the 
strongest desires must yield to the requirements of 
war and the demands of policy." ^ This refusal to 
come to his aid was the final blow to the ill-fated 
protege of France ; his health had long been infirm ; 
disappointment and anxiety had shattered him men- 
tally and physically ; another term of exile, poverty, 
and mortification was more than he had the fortitude 
to encounter. On January 20, 1745, Charles VII. 
died in his forty-eighth year. He had been emperor 
for three years, and during almost all of that time he 
had been one of the most unhappy men in Europe. 

The French could now have closed the disastrous 
war in which they were engaged with honor and per- 

^ Tagebuch, 1¥). 

2 Letter of Louis, January 3, 1746. 


haps with some advantage, and except the aggran- 
dizement of the Spanish infante there no longer 
seemed to be anything to fight about. ^ It was to 
wrest the imperial crown from the House of Austria 
that the war had been begun, but only a man bereft 
of intelligence would believe that this endeavor could 
again be made with success. It was impossible to 
obtain a majority in the college of electors for any 
candidate opposed by Austria. Maria Theresa was no 
longer unknown and helpless ; her fame for vigor and 
constancy was established, her armies were numerous, 
her allies were active. Austria under her rule was quite 
as powerful as it had been under Charles VI. Even 
if votes could be obtained for any other candidate, it 
hardly seemed possible that a prince could be found 
insane enough to accept the office. The experience of 
Charles VII. showed the probable fate of him who 
should hold this dignity without having hereditary 
dominions as extensive as those of Austria to sustain 
himself in it. The minor German princes preferred 
their peaceful palaces, the delights of their Residenzen 
and Lustenhausen, to flying from city to city before 
Austrian armies ; an imperial crown, the wearer of 
which would probably have to live in exile and sub- 
sist on charity, had few attractions. 

Maria Theresa had long been filled with a passion- 
ate desire to see the crown of Charlemagne placed on 
the brow of her beloved husband. The campaigns 
of the last year had shown her that the conquest of 
French provinces would not be as easy a task as she 
had hoped ; there is little doubt that if France had 
consented to the elevation of the grand duke to the 
imperial throne, Maria Theresa would have been 
1 Argenson to Rennes, July 1, 1746, Aff. Etr. Esp. 


ready to make peace, and very possibly would have 
consented to some modification of the French frontier 
in Flanders. France was indeed allied with Prussia, 
with Bavaria, and with Spain, but neither good policy 
nor good faith required her to prosecute the war in 
their behalf. The young Elector of Bavaria soon ob- 
tained peace for himself, and was left in the tranquil 
possession of his electorate upon abandoning all claims 
on the imperial crown or the inheritance of Maria 
Theresa. With quick political foresight, Frederick 
no sooner heard of the death of Charles than he 
offered to make peace and support the grand duke for 
the empire, if he could be assured of Silesia and 
obtain some moderate advantages in addition. Only 
a quixotic loyalty demanded that a nation should 
sacrifice itself for an ally who was endeavoring to 
secure his own interests by abandoning the alliance. 
To Spain France was bound by an unwise treaty, one 
of the fruits of her unfortunate success in putting a 
Bourbon on the Spanish throne. But ten years be- 
fore, in very similar circumstances, Fleury had decided 
that his first duty was to his own country; he had 
obtained advantages for France, instead of carrying 
on a costly war to satisfy the greed of the Spanish 
queen, and a wise and patriotic Frenchman would 
now have pursued a similar course. 

Unfortunately, the men who had the destiny of 
France in their hands at this time were not wise ; if 
they had imitated the example of their ally Freder- 
ick, and considered only the interests of their own 
land, the course of events for the next twenty years 
might have been changed. It was not often that 
Louis XV. exercised a decided influence in shaping 
French policy ; on this occasion he did, and his usual 


good judgment was biased by his personal desires and 
jealousies. The results of the last campaign had been 
satisfactory, and Louis was eager to take part in 
another ; the seat of war would be in Flanders, where 
the French armies had often been successful, and where 
the king could himself share in the glory to be gained. 
He was influenced also by another and a less credita- 
ble feeling. As the male line of the House of Austria 
had failed, it was the former Duke of Lorraine, the 
husband of Maria Theresa, who was a candidate for 
the imperial throne. The prospect of his elevation 
was disagreeable to Louis XV., and offended a weak 
vanity from which he was not free. The Duke of 
Lorraine had been his neighbor and almost his sub- 
ject; even regarded as an independent sovereign, 
the duke was a very unimportant personage compared 
with the king of France. When he visited the French 
court he was entitled to no greater honors than many 
French nobles ; he paid homage for the duchy of Bar 
to the French king, and, humbly kneeling, swore fidel- 
ity to him as his feudal superior.^ But if the duke 
were made emperor he would assume the position of 
greatest dignity in Europe; he would outrank the 
king of France in the society of sovereigns: it. was 
the case of a poor neighbor suddenly rising to a supe- 
rior social rank ; the Duke of Lorraine as emperor 
seemed a parvenu, and Louis did not like parvenus.^ 

1 The memoirs of St. Simon are full of the squabbles of 
the dukes of Lorraine and some of the French nobility, and the 
duke is never more eloquent than in denouncing what he calls 
the black artifices of the House of Lorraine to obtain special 
privileges and honors at the French court. 

2 Chambrier to Frederick, February 22, 1745. " II y a dans 
le cceur du roi de France une jalousie et une haine telle que ces 
deux passions se fonts entir dans un supdrieur pour un infdrieur." 


Another man had much to do in shaping the policy 
of the country at this crisis, and, actuated by the most 
patriotic motives, he succeeded in doing nothing that 
he should and everything that he should not have done. 
The character of the Marquis of Argenson possesses 
an unusual interest. He was a gentleman of good 
descent, though connected with parliamentary families 
rather than with the nobility of the sword. His 
father became famous by the ability he displayed as 
lieutenant of police under Louis XIV. ; his brother, 
a man of readiness and good parts, was secretary of 
war under Louis XV. In the liberality of his views, 
in the justness of many of his observations, the mar- 
quis himself was unusual in his class and his age. In 
the last haK of the century the aristocracy were often 
revolutionary in expression, if not at heart, but such 
sentiments found no utterance among the nobility 
fifty years earlier. Argenson was one of the first who 
felt the dim forebodings of different social conditions, 
who heard the distant murmurs of the Revolution. 

His active mind devised schemes of political change 
which, if not always sound, were always ingenious ; 
he planned the deliverance of Italy from the rule of 
foreigners at an era when the dreams of mediaeval 
Guelf s had been forgotten and the modern visions of a 
united Italy had not come into existence. At a time 
when America was regarded by most Continental poli- 
ticians as not very much more important than Mada- 
gascar, and when no one dreamed that the struggling 
colonies of North America would form an independent 
republic, Argen son's prophetic eye saw the possibili- 
ties of a marvelous development in population and 
wealth ; the day would come, he declared, when the 
traveler would start to visit some populous and civil- 


ized city in California as then one took the coach to 
Meaux.i Ue sketched a form of government for his 
own country, in which all privileges and immunities 
should be swept away, where judicial offices should 
cease to be sold, and local interests should be admin- 
istered by those who were concerned. Amid the cor- 
ruption and selfishness of the age of Louis XV. 
Argenson wrote, " There is a trade by which one 
could gain prodigiously, and that is to play the part 
of a perfectly honest man," ^ and of all his ideas this 
was the most original. 

This role he himself attempted and, sad to say, it 
resulted in total failure. Louis XV. could hardly 
have found a worse adviser than this intelligent and 
upright man. Argenson, like many a similar char- 
acter, wise in the closet, proved a very simpleton in 
action ; he knew much of political theories and little 
of politicians ; he was lacking in quick perception, in 
skill in dealing with others ; he never understood the 
character of men who were neither honest nor truth- 
ful, and by such he was surrounded. No statesmen 
do more harm than those who are always right in their 
intentions and always wrong in their judgments; it 
would have been well for France if at this time she 
could have had the counsels of a man who was selfish 
and immoral and sagacious, like Dubois, instead of 
one who was upright and disinterested and wrong- 
headed, like Argenson. 

The stammering Amelot had long been out of favor 
with Louis XV. ; he encountered also the ill will of 
Mme. de Chateauroux and of Frederick, and in 
April, 1744, he was dismissed. For a while the king 

1 Argenson, Pensees, 500. 

2 Memoires, i. 359. 


acted as his own minister for foreign affairs, but no 
sovereign could attend to the detail of such an office, 
and least of all, Louis XV. It was necessary to fill 
the vacancy, and Villeueuve, who had represented the 
French court at Constantinople, was chosen for the 
place. His appointment was unlooked for, and his 
conduct was stupefying. As the fortunate man made 
his way to the royal closet, in answer to the summons, 
all the world of Versailles gathered about him to 
present their felicitations and crave his favor. He 
entered the closet, and soon an amazing rumor began 
to circulate in the antechamber; the new minister had 
pleaded his years and infirmities ; he felt unequal to 
the responsibilities of the office and had declined to 
accept it. Such abnegation was no virtue in the eyes 
of courtiers ; no one then believed that the post of 
honor was a private station ; the man who declined a 
place, of which the emoluments were large and the 
patronage enormous, was regarded as an imbecile and 
an ingrate to the king. As Villeneuve came from his 
audience, and again passed through the antechamber, 
those who had sought his favor a few minutes before 
drew away to avoid the contagion of his society ; he 
made his way through the crowd amid a chilling 
silence and the contempt of all beholders.^ 

The selection of Villeneuve was followed by another 
which was as little expected ; to the surprise of the 
court and the equal surprise of the nominee, in No- 
vember, 1744, the Marquis of Argenson was declared 
secretary of state for foreign affairs, and he eagerly 
accepted a position which he had long desired. 

Two months later Charles VII. died, and that event 
changed the aspect of the political horizon. Neither 
1 Mem. de Bemis, i. 91. 



Louis nor Argenson was inclined to make overtures 
to Maria Theresa, nor to seek a favorable peace as a 
condition of the unopposed election of her husband as 
emperor. " We must spend our last crown and lose 
our last soldier," wrote Argenson, " rather than allow 
the grand duke to become emperor." ^ 

But it was difficult even to suggest another candi- 
date. It was idle to advocate the claims of the new 
Elector of Bavaria ; he was a youth of eighteen, who 
had inherited the needs and embarrassments of his 
father, and he wisely occupied himself in seeking an 
alliance with Maria Theresa in the hope of recover- 
ing his ancestral possessions. The only person whom 
the French could suggest as a possible candidate in 
opposition to the grand duke was Augustus III., the 
Elector of Saxony and king of Poland. Unfortu- 
nately, nothing could be done in the matter without 
the aid of Frederick, and Frederick loathed the Elec- 
tor of Saxony. Not discouraged by this, Argenson 
sent an envoy to the court of Dresden to assure Au- 
gustus of the support of France in his candidacy for 
the imperial throne. Augustus had little taste for 
such adventures ; he was already occupied in endeavors 
to obtain some reward from Maria Theresa in return 
for his support of her husband, and the offer of 
French aid was declined with diplomatic affability. 

But Argenson had a mind of peculiar and unfortu- 
nate subtlety ; when once he had formed a theory that 
Augustus desired to be emperor, no evidence could 
make him believe that he was mistaken ; the more 
strenuously the elector declined to be a candidate, the 
more certain was the minister that he really lusted 
for the dignity, and only wished to be urged before 
1 Mem. of August 12, 1745. 


declaring his candidacy. " Flattered by the hope of 
this dignity," he wrote of Augustas, " his desire for it 
will grow stronger every day, and will at last lead 
him to overcome all obstacles in the way." ^ The 
French ambassador at Berlin was instructed to press 
these views on Frederick, but they only excited the 
ridicule of that clear-sighted monarch; to his good 
common sense such fine-spun theorizing seemed absurd 
in the field of politics. " Your predilection for the 
Saxons is incomprehensible to me," he wrote Valori. 
" You are so blind that nothing can make you see 
the light. Read the re23orts of St. Severin, and if 
these don't serve as hellebore, I will declare you 
incurable. Adieu, my good Valori ; have yourself 
bled three times a day and drink a great deal of 
water." ^ No hellebore could cure Argenson's de- 
lusions, and the French continued to offer a vain 
and irritating opposition to the election of the grand 

Frederick, on the other hand, was engaged in nego- 
tiations for peace, and hoped to receive some ad- 
vantage in return for his vote in favor of Austria's 
candidate. At first he demanded " a good morsel," 
and when it was evident that Maria Theresa had no 
thought of surrendering more territory, he offered his 
support if he could be assured of Silesia.^ He was 
hopeful of the success of these negotiations, but he 

1 Argenson to Valori, March, 1745. Frederick said con- 
temptuously of the man who sacrificed the interests of his country 
in his zeal for the Prussian king, " He is one of those feeble in- 
tellects, who, when they have formed a prejudice, can't be made 
to abandon it." Pol Cor., v. 302. 

2 Pol. Cor., iv. 115, April 9, 1745. 

8 Frederick to Andri^, January 26, February 19, July 25, 
1745 ; Podewils, April 2, etc. 


prepared for their failure. The campaign in Bohemia 
had exhausted his ready money, and he now asked 
Louis XV. for a subsidy. Even Frederick did not 
wish this request to reach Versailles just as it was 
announced to the world that he had made a separate 
peace and for the second time left France in the lurch. 
Accordingly, Podewils was instructed to examine the 
dispatches, and if peace could be obtained on satis- 
factory terms, to inform the French that the emperor's 
death had worked a dissolution of the alliance between 
France and Prussia, and Frederick had therefore de- 
cided to make peace for himself ; but should Maria 
Theresa refuse any concessions, the minister must 
forward forthwith the demand for a subsidy, and urge 
with all possible force on the French, that by the 
terms of the treaty they were bound to furnish this 
aid for the needs of a faithful ally.^ 

The odds turned against this bold and unscrupulous 
player. Maria Theresa yielded only when forced by 
dire necessity, and it was always most reluctantly that 
she would yield anything to Frederick. She now re- 
fused to listen to the advice of the English, or to have 
any dealings with one whom she stigmatized as a royal 
outlaw. She declared that Frederick's bad faith had 
forfeited the grant of Silesia ; she summoned the in- 
habitants of that province to return to the allegiance 
of their lawful sovereign, and she would make no 

The prospects of the Prussian king seemed dark. 
The young Elector of Bavaria had deserted the alliance, 
the king of Poland was hostile, even the empress of 

^ Such is the substance and in part almost the very words of 
Frederick's letters of instruction to Podewils, April 2, 14, May 
8 ; to Louis, May 2 ; to Chambrier, July 5. 


Russia, on whose friendship he had relied, experienced 
a sudden change of heart and intimated that she 
might be found among his adversaries ; his enemies 
were numerous, his friends were lukewarm, his funds 
were low. But it was at such emergencies that the 
real greatness of Frederick's character appeared. One 
tires of the perpetual trickery of his conduct, and of 
letters in which his contempt for good faith is so ap- 
parent that it seems strange any one should have been 
deceived by them. But when dangers thickened, when 
all deserted him, when he could rely only on his own 
genius to escape utter ruin, the indomitable and heroic 
character of the man appeared in every line he wrote, 
and the Seven Years' war was to show that the pro- 
fessions he now made were no idle form of words. 
His faithful minister, Podewils, was alarmed at the 
coalition against Prussia, and warned his master that 
he was hazarding the fortune and the existence of his 
country, and it might be well to yield something and 
save the rest.^ " You think like an honest man," re- 
plied Frederick, " and if I were Podewils I should be 
of the same opinion. But I have crossed the Rubicon. 
I will sustain my power, or all shall perish and the 
Prussian name be buried with me. ... It has been 
my glory to increase the power of my house ; I have 
played an important part among the crowned heads 
of Europe, and this I will sustain at the risk of my 
fortune and my life. ... If misfortune comes, bear it 
with magnanimity and constancy ; surely I shall suffer 
the most. ... If I must perish, it shall be with glory 
and sword in hand. Learn from one who has not 

* " Votre Majesty se rendrait responsable k Elle-meme et k 
toute sa postdritd, si EUe voulait mettre toute la fortune de son 
^tat au hasard d'etre renvers^e du fond au comble." 


listened often to Eisner's sermons, nor any other ser- 
mons, that we must oppose a brow of iron to the mis- 
fortunes we may encounter." ^ 

Both France and Prussia now prepared for an 
active campaign. Frederick desired the French to 
send a powerful army into Germany; a diversion 
there might draw away some of the forces of Maria 
Theresa, and render it easier for him to oppose the 
Austrians in Silesia. But this the French were not 
inclined to do ; their misfortunes in Bohemia and 
Bavaria had destroyed any taste for ventures in the 
interior of a foreign country, far removed from any 
base of supplies ; they resolved to use their forces 
nearer home, to the great dissatisfaction of their ally. 

Your campaign in Flanders will do me no good, 
said Frederick ; a campaign in Bavaria or Westphalia 
will do us no good, replied the French. The Low 
Countries were selected as the field of principal ac- 
tivity, and wisely so ; there French armies could easily 
reach the scene of war, and conquests might be useful 
to France herself. By April ninety thousand men 
were under arms in the Netherlands, and this great 
force was commanded by Marshal Saxe, the ablest 
general in Europe. 

France has usually been prolific in great soldiers, 
but in the long decline of the monarchy, military 
genius shared in the decrepitude of an infirm state ; 
from the end of the war of the Spanish Succession 
until the outbreak of the wars of the Revolution, no 
Frenchman proved himself a general of the first order. 
The ill success of the French armies thus far had been 
to some extent due to the mediocrity of their leaders: 
Belle Isle was energetic and courageous, but he could 
» Frederick to Podewils, April 27, 29, 1745. 


not be regarded as an officer of unusual ability; 
Broglie and Noailles, through long military careers, 
had shown themselves cautious, prudent, well-trained 
soldiers, who rarely made serious blunders and never 
achieved brilliant results ; those who owed their mili- 
tary positions to their rank or their favor, like Conti, 
or Clermont, or Richelieu, were still less qualified 
for important commands. It was to the genius of a 
foreigner that France was indebted for the victories 
which changed the course of the war and checked the 
formidable coalition against her. 

Maurice de Saxe was a soldier of fortune, but his 
genius, his adventurous life, and his restless ambition 
made him one of the most famous of his class. No 
vision of power or fame could be too remote to tempt 
his fancy ; no undertaking was so difficult as to dis- 
courage his ardor ; no dissipation too reckless to amuse 
his leisure. He was the manner of man that we could 
expect from a knowledge of his ancestry. Many mem- 
bers of the ancient and illustrious House of Konigs- 
marck had been soldiers of fortune ; they had been 
equally known for bravery and licentiousness, and they 
had sought adventure and glory under many flags. 
Maurice was not the first of the family to enter the 
service of France. His great uncle had served under 
Turenne, had earned the praise of that illustrious 
commander, and had received a sword of honor from 
Louis XIV. An uncle of Maurice fled from England 
to escape the odium of a murder he was charged with 
having planned, and afterward served with valor in 
the French army ; strict in his religious belief, if not 
in his morality, he refused to renounce his Protestant 
faith at the request of Louis XIV., and died a soldier 
of the republic of Venice, fighting against the Turk. 


Another uncle of Maurice was the ill-fated Philip 
of Konigsmarck, the lover of Sophia Dorothea, wife 
of the future George I. of England, who met a mys- 
terious fate as a result of that intrigue. The tragedy 
was involved in such obscurity that it was not known 
whether Philip was dead or imprisoned ; his sister, 
the charming Aurora of Konigsmarck, resolved to 
solve the mystery and to avenge her brother, and in 
this quest she applied for aid to Frederick Augustus, 
then Elector of Saxony and afterwards king of Poland. 
She did not get the revenge she sought, but she secured 
a royal lover instead, and in 1696 Maurice de Saxe 
was born, the illegitimate son of the Elector of Sax- 
ony and of the beautiful Aurora. His father, Augus- 
tus the Strong, as he was called, did much to increase 
the ranks of bastard princes ; it was said that he had 
three hundred and fifty-four illegitimate children, and 
even if with Augustus, as with Don Juan, the fame of 
his exploits was exaggerated by the Leporellos who 
sang of them, the young Maurice did not learn a rigid 
morality from such a parent. Aug-ustus was a Pro- 
testant by birth, and became a Catholic from ambi- 
tion, but, as has been truly said, he always remained 
a Mahometan in morals.^ Among all the German 
courts, his was preeminent for luxury, for prodigality, 
and for license. 

Maurice early began a career of dissipation, but he 
displayed also a taste for war and the qualities of a 
soldier. When a lad of twelve he served with credit 
in the war of the Spanish Succession, and exhibited 
such a reckless courage that Prince Eugene warned 
him not to confound temerity with valor. While he 
was still a young man his unquiet ambition led him 
^ L^montey, Histoire de la regence. 


into many wild schemes. He was elected Duke of 
Courland, and with a handful of followers he endeav- 
ored, though in vain, to hold his principality against a 
Russian army. It was said that either Anna Ivanovna 
or Elizabeth Petrovna, both of whom in turn ruled 
over Russia, would have been willing to take for a 
husband this dashing young adventurer, but, perhaps 
because he was ud certain which to choose, he finally 
got neither. In 1721, he entered the service of France, 
and purchased the colonelcy of a regiment. When 
he was not engaged in roaming over Europe in search 
of a throne or a royal bride, he lived for the most part 
in Paris, and he became a leader in the most prodigal 
and dissipated society that could be found in that 
capital. The famous actress, Adrienne Lecouvreur, 
was one of his mistresses, and when he was seeking 
his fortune in Courland she pledged her jewels, of 
enormous value, to assist the ambition of her lover. 

In the war of the Polish Succession he served cred- 
itably, and was promoted to be a lieutenant-general, 
but peace left him again to seek occupation in the 
pleasures of Paris. At the outbreak of the war of 
the Austrian Succession Maurice was a man of forty- 
four ; he was favorably known as an officer, but better 
known for his gallantries and his reckless dissipation, 
and the uneasy ambition which had involved him in 
so many chimerical projects was still unsatisfied. At 
last his opportunity came, and he won fame in the few 
years that were left him. 

It was at Prague that Maurice first attracted the 
attention of Europe to his skill as a soldier. The 
capture of a great city by a handful of men, accom- 
plished almost without bloodshed, was an extraordi- 
nary achievement in those days of tedious sieges ; it 


was a different kind of warfare from the slow circum- 
vallations by which Louis XIV. had occupied months 
in taking towns less strong and less important than 
the capital of Bohemia. 

During the succeeding campaign in Bavaria, when 
the French armies were under timid and infirm lead- 
ers like Maillebois and Broglie, Maurice was the only 
general in whose skill and courage the soldiers had 
confidence. " I have never seen an army so poorly 
governed as this," wrote an officer ; " if the Count of 
Saxe, who has to attend to everything, were removed, 
I don't know what would become of us." ^ Notwith- 
standing such services, Maurice had not yet attained 
the highest rank in his profession. If Louis XV. was 
not pious he was bigoted, and he hesitated to make 
a Protestant marshal of France. He distrusted also 
Maurice's restless temperament. " Shall we confide 
to him alone the safety of a province ? " the king 
wrote to Noailles ; " he who is a Huguenot, who wishes 
to become a sovereign, and who, when he is opposed, 
says always that he will seek some other service." ^ 

But at last both the king and the public felt that 
the Saxon general was the only man wfio could save 
the country from the invasion which threatened it. 
In 1744 Maurice de Saxe received a marshal's baton ; 
he was the only Protestant, except Lowendahl, upon 
whom this honor was conferred from the revocation 
of the Edict of Nantes until the wars of Napoleon.^ 
In 1745, he was given command of the army in the 
Low Countries. 

On May 8, Louis joined the army. In this cam- 

1 Letter of Count Poniatowski, cited by Taillandier. 

^ Louis to Noailles, August 1, 1743. 

* Lowendahl, who was also a foreigner, became a Catholio. 


paign, as in all his campaigns, the king proved him- 
self a good soldier ; he was courageous ; unlike his 
predecessor, he had no fear of taking the risk of a 
battle ; he was willing to expose his own person, and 
to incur the chance of defeat when there was a rea- 
sonable hope of victory, and he had the good sense 
always to follow the advice of experienced generals. 
The army of the allies in the Low Countries was 
about fifty thousand strong, and was under the com- 
mand of the Duke of Cumberland, then a young man of 
twenty-two, with Marshal Konigsegg as his adviser. 
The French laid siege to Tournay, and Cumberland re- 
solved to go to the relief of the town. His route was by 
way of Mons, and in order to check his advance Mau- 
rice led the bulk of the French army towards Fontenoy. 
This movement did not escape criticism. By dividing 
his forces the critics declared that he exposed himself 
to a serious risk. It was uncertain by which road the 
allies would finally endeavor to reach Tournay; by 
changing their route they could surprise and over- 
power the forces left at the siege of the town and 
cut off the retreat of the rest of the army. Maurice's 
fame as a geheral was not yet established, he had won 
no great battle, and this was his first appearance as 
commander-in-chief of the principal army in the field. 
His physical condition also excited grave doubts as 
to his ability to conduct a campaign with success. 
When Maurice was chosen to command the army it 
seemed that his opportunity for glory had come too 
late. The exposures of past years, aggravated by a 
life of unceasing dissipation, had told upon his power- 
ful frame ; he was suffering from dropsy ; his face 
was so pale, his body so swollen, and his movements 
so infirm, that it was thought he had not many months 


to live ; he was unable to ride on horseback, and he 
was carried about the army in a sort of wicker chair 
or basket, which he called his cradle. It was not 
strange that many declared that the marshal's in- 
firmities had weakened his mental powers, and felt at 
liberty to question the wisdom of his tactics. These 
murmurs were silenced by the judicious conduct of 
the king. He refused to interfere with Maurice's 
plans, and turning to the marshal, in the presence of 
a group of courtiers and officers, he said in a loud 
voice, " When I chose you to command my army, I 
intended that you should be obeyed by every one, and 
I myself will be the first to set the example." 

Maurice's infirmities did not affect the enthusiasm of 
his men. During long years of ill success the French 
soldiers had lost confidence in their officers, and as a 
result they had shown little of their usual dash and 
courage. When Vauvenargues was with the army in 
Bohemia, he wrote that the soldiers approached the 
enemy like a body of Capucin monks starting for 

Now all were eager for action and confident of 
success. The approaching contest suggested interest- 
ing historical parallels. Both the king of France and 
the dauphin were present with the French army ; the 
English were under the command of a son of their 
king. It was the first time, said Louis, that the armies 
of the two nations had met under such leadership 
since the battle of Poitiers, and he hoped now for 
better fortune than had befallen King John when he 
encountered the Black Prince. Maurice desired Louis 
to station himself on the further side of the Scheldt 
during the engagement, that his retreat might be 
easier in case of defeat, but the king refused to follow 


such counsels, and in the most doubtful hours of the 
day he remained at Calonne, watching the battle from 
a spot not too distant to be reached by an occasional 

In numbers the two armies were now nearly equal, 
the allies had almost fifty thousand men, and the 
French about fifty-five thousand, but in position the 
latter had a decided advantage. Maurice had sta- 
tioned his army by the Scheldt, and at the towns of 
Antoine, Fontenoy, and Barry strong batteries were 
placed blocking the roads leading towards Tournay. 
These towns were equidistant, and the front of the 
French army extended about two miles from Antoine 
to Barry. The position of Barry was further strength- 
ened by the existence of an extensive wood, through 
which the enemy could with difficulty make its way, 
while Fontenoy, at the centre of the line, was strongly 
fortified. Thus any advance of the allies towards 
Tournay was checked, while an attempt to break the 
line of an army equal or superior in numbers and 
strongly fortified was a hazardous undertaking. If 
the English had contented themselves with skirmish- 
ing and cutting off supplies, such a course, Maurice 
said, would have proved embarrassing to him ; but 
the young Duke of Cumberland was eager for a battle, 
and an immediate attack was decided upon.^ 

By five o'clock on the morning of May 11 the firing 
began, and by six the engagement became general. 
It resulted in a repulse of the allies all along the line. 
The Dutch held the left and advanced upon Antoine, 

^ Carlyle says that Marshal Konigsegg advised against an im- 
mediate attack, but was overruled by Cumberland. This seems 
to be a mistake, judging by Konigsegg's own letter the day of 
the battle, cited in Arneth, iii. 59 and note. 


but they were met by a hot fire from the batteries in 
the village and the other side of the Scheldt, which dis- 
couraged their zeal ; they fell back and took no fur- 
ther part in the battle ; they did nothing, says Carlyle, 
" but patiently expect when it should be time to run." ^ 
Such was the vigor and pertinacity of the English 
assault that the time for running was long postponed. 
Maurice checked those who congratulated him on the 
repulse of the enemy before Antoine. " We have 
now to do with the English," he said, " and they will 
be harder to digest." 

The advance of the English upon Barry was, however, 
neither successful nor vigorous ; whether embarrassed 
by the woods or discouraged by the French intrench- 
ments, the attack was carried on in a half-hearted 
manner, and nothing was accomplished. It was 
around the village of Fontenoy that the real battle 
was fought. This was the centre of the position, and 
its capture would cut the French army in two. The 
English charged repeatedly, but the place was too 
strong to be carried ; at ten o'clock the allies had been 
repulsed at every point ; the battle seemed won, but 
really it had hardly begun. Convinced that it was 
impossible to carry either Fontenoy or Barry, Cum- 
berland resolved to force his way between the two 
towns, and thus penetrate beyond the fire of the bat- 
teries which had checked his advance. Between the 
towns extended a long ravine, which Maurice had not 
fortified, because he thought no army would be rash 

^ Arneth criticises Carlyle severely for saying that the Aus- 
trians were stationed with the Dutch before Antoine and de- 
served the same condemnation for cowardly conduct. The Aus- 
trian historian apparently proves that Carlyle was either mistaken 
as to the facts, or careless in his way of stating them. 


enough to enter it ; the descent into it was steep, the 
defile was filled with fallen trees, and forces working 
their way through would be exposed to the French 
fire, both from Fontenoy and Barry. Undismayed by 
such difficulties, the English resolved on the attempt ; 
it was impossible for the cavalry to get through, and 
the cannon were drawn by men ; though exposed to a 
fierce fire on either side, the infantry doggedly worked 
their way over the obstacles. The English column 
slowly traversed the ravine, and at last emerged on 
the rising ground at the further side, in the rear of 
Fontenoy. As they came over the ridge of the hill 
the French thought at first it was but a body of strag- 
glers, but an army appeared before them in solid 
column, fifteen thousand strong. The opposing forces 
were within fifty feet of each other, and Lord Charles 
Hay, advancing in front of his regiment, pulled off 
his hat to the French officers, who politely returned 
the salute. " Tell your men to fire ! " cried Hay. 
" No," replied the Count of Auteroche, " we never 
fire first." This famous incident is so well established 
by the testimony of those who were present that it 
cannot be questioned, but it has been much miscon- 
strued. It was not a display of excessive courtesy, 
most unseemly when the fate of a battle and the lives 
of soldiers were at stake ; it was a rule of tactics, and 
not a bit of rodomontade, to which Auteroche gave 
utterance.^ In a book called " Mes Reveries," writ- 

^ The statements given by Valfons, Souvenirs, 143, and 
D'Espagnac, Maurice de Saxe, ii. 91, both present at the battle, 
seem to establish the correctness of this incident, which, when 
understood, loses much of its theatrical character. A statement 
of Lord Charles Hay is cited by Carlyle, but does not contra- 
dict the French accounts, though it gives some other talk be- 
tween the officers. 


ten by Maurice de Saxe, and in which he stated the 
principles of military tactics, we find this rule laid 
down with emphasis : When two battalions approach, 
the one that foes first is beaten. " You are beaten," 
he says, " if you fire against an enemy approaching 
with rapidity. Your troop flatters itself that its fire 
will annihilate the enemy, and when it sees how little 
effect it has produced, it will surely run ; the company 
which has fired is out of countenance when it sees 
approaching through the smoke those who have re- 
served their fire." In those days of poor gims, the 
number who fell at a discharge was often very small. 
" I have seen whole discharges which did not kill 
four men," he says, " and I have never seen enough 
harm done to arrest an advance ; " firing made more 
noise than it did harm, he continues; it was at the 
bayonet charge that men were killed, and he who 
did the killing won the battle. At the battle of Cas- 
tiglione, he tells us, the French approached the enemy 
without firing; at twenty-five paces the Imperialists 
fired in good order and with all possible precautions, 
but the French at once dashed forward and routed 

The opinion of a great general like Maurice is cer- 
tainly entitled to consideration ; the inefficacy of fire- 
arms made war a very different affair from what it is 
now, and these principles can be found laid down, not 
only by Saxe, but by other French authorities ; it was 
thought that a company which had fired, and saw the 
enemy approaching with their guns still loaded and 
their bayonets set, was very apt to break and run, 
and that disadvantage more than compensated for the 
few men who might faU at the first discharge. The 
1 Mes Reveries, i. 76, 77, 80, 81, et pas. 


famous exchange of courtesies at Fontenoy was in 
reality only obedience to a rule of tactics. 

The English had now penetrated into the heart of 
the French position, and the result of the battle seemed 
very problematical. Louis was advised to retreat, but 
he stubbornly refused to do so, and if the English had 
been finally successful, he might have shared the fate 
of King John at Poitiers and completed the histori- 
cal parallel. Frederick said that if Cumberland had 
now divided his forces and, turning either way, taken 
the French on the flank, he might have annihilated 
his opponents and gained a great victory. If such a 
manceuvre was possible, it was not attempted, but the 
English phalanx repulsed with heavy losses the re- 
peated attacks which the French made upon it. Yet 
Maurice was guilty of no idle waste of life in these 
assaults. The English had no cavalry and could not 
pursue the broken French regiments ; exposed to these 
constant attacks, their column made slow progress, and 
in the mean time Maurice had an opportunity to re- 
organize his forces and draw reinforcements from other 
quarters.^ At two o'clock a final assault settled the 
fate of the day. Strong bodies of troops, still com- 
paratively fresh, attacked the English on either flank, 
while a newly placed battery opened a hot fire upon 
them from the front. At last the column broke and 
the battle of Fontenoy was won. The French were 
too much exhausted by seven hours of severe fight- 
ing to attempt any prolonged pursuit, and Maurice 
was not wont to disturb himself with pursuing an 
enemy when the glory of victory had been secured. 
The loss of the allies, including prisoners, was over 
ten thousand, and the French lost in killed and 
1 D'Espagnac, ii. 98, 99. 


wounded about seven thousand, including nearly six 
hundred officers.^ 

Fontenoy was the first victory of importance which 
the French had won during almost five years of war- 
fare ; it was gained over their ancient and traditional 
enemies ; their king had borne his share in the dan- 
gers of the day, and it excited unbounded enthusiasm. 
Illuminations blazed and Te Deums were sung in 
honor of the glorious event; it was celebrated in 
countless effusions by poets of all degrees, from Vol- 
taire down to the obscurest scribbler of the rue St. 
Denis. The victory of Fontenoy insured the capture 
of Tournay, which soon surrendered. Oudenarde, 
Osteud, and Bruges were afterwards taken with little 

While the French were victorious in the Low Coun- 
tries, the king of Prussia was equally successful in 
Silesia. His task was more difficult because he was 
opposed by superior numbers, but Frederick's skill 
and the discipline of his soldiers counterbalanced any 
advantage in the size of the Austrian armies. At this 
time, as so often in his adventurous career, the king 
risked all rather than yield anything, and the possi- 
bilities of ruin which appalled Podewils did not alarm 
Frederick ; he trusted to his own genius and to the 
blunders of his adversaries, and between the two he 

^ For the battle of Fontenoy see the reports of Maurice, Let- 
tres de Maurice de Saxe, t. i., and the official English reports. In 
D'Espagnac's Maurice de Saxe is a full and correct account of 
the battle, given by an officer who took part in it and was on 
intimate terms with the French commander. The Souvenirs of 
Valfons, who also took part in the engagement, are valuable, 
though less accurate than the account of D'Espagnac. Broglie 
has given an interesting account of the battle. There is much 
discrepancy as to the losses on either side. 


always secured a safe deliverance. Yet no one realized 
better than he the risks against which neither genius 
nor vigilance could surely guard. "The operations 
of war are very complicated," he wrote in a letter at 
this time, " and require the concurrence of design and 
chance ; provisions must be sufficient, information cor- 
rect, an infinite number of officers must execute orders 
with intelligence and skill ; a chance turns to success 
the faults of generals, or ruins the most skillful dispo- 
sitions ; the chapter of accidents is always large and 
the poor generals are much to be commiserated, for 
the public knows only enough to condemn the unfor- 
tunate and extol the successful." ^ His situation was 
full of peril, the existence of the state hung upon 
a hair, he wrote Podewils ; but if ruin would have 
followed defeat, safety was assured by victory; at 
Hohenfriedberg on the 4th of June, 1745, the Aus- 
trian and Saxon army was completely defeated with 
a loss of sixteen thousand men, and Maria Theresa's 
hopes to reduce Prussia to a mere electorate of Bran- 
denburg, an unimportant factor in German politics, 
were blasted.^ Frederick usually attached little impor- 
tance to Te Deums, but he felt that there was much 
cause for thankfulness. " Tedeumize," he wrote his 
minister, '.' as is fitting." ^ 

It was at Hohenfriedberg that Frederick displayed 
for the first time military talents of a high order,- 
Mollwitz was won by the generalship of Schwerin 
after the king had fled from the field; success at 
Chotusitz was due to the steadfastness and discipline 
of the Prussian soldiers ; at Hohenfriedberg, Freder- 

1 Pol Cor., iv. 217. 

2 Ih., 181, 260, etc. 

8 lb., 187, « Faites tedeumiser," etc. 


ick showed that skill as a tactician in the hour of bat- 
tle which was to make him the most famous general 
of Europe. The result was the more gratifying to 
him because he had derived very little satisfaction 
from the success of his allies at Fontenoy. It is pos- 
sible that Frederick was not free from a certain feeling 
of jealousy that another monarch should win battles ; 
the future was to show how little cause Frederick the 
Great had to be jealous of Louis XV. as a rival for 
military glory, but the Prussian king's fame as a 
general was not then established ; at all events he 
contented himself with congratulating Louis on the 
results at Fontenoy in a brief postscript, and even 
this he delayed until he had himself gained the battle 
of Hohenfriedberg.^ He had, moreover, more substan- 
tial reasons for feeling little pleasure at the French 
victory. It was with a very ill will that Frederick 
saw the French concentrate their forces in the Low 
Countries, and certainly a powerful diversion in Bavaria 
or Westphalia would have been far more useful to 
him than a victory at Fontenoy. " A campaign in 
Flanders," he wrote, " will be as useful to the king of 
Prussia as one in Monomotapa." "If the king had 
just come from an insane asylum, he might be per- 
suaded that a campaign in Flanders wolild be of great 
service to him, but as it is, neither he nor the smallest 
drummer boy in his army believe it." " If the Span- 
ish make a descent on the Canary Islands, the king of 
France takes Tournay, or Thomas Tulican lays siege 
to Babylon, it is aU the same thing, and nobody be- 
lieves this will make the slightest change in the war 
in Bohemia or Moravia." ^ The victory at Fontenoy, 

1 Frederick to Louis, June 4, 1745. 

2 Mem. of May 16, 1745. 


he growled, was of as much importance to him as a 
battle won on the shores of the Scamander. 

The Prussian king had grounds for discontent with 
his allies other than their refusal to carry on the cam- 
paign in the manner most advantageous to him. It 
was with reluctance that he had asked a subsidy from 
France ; though his feelings were not delicate, he was 
loath to become a French pensioner. But his treas- 
ury was empty and his needs were great, and he de- 
manded a subsidy in the peremptory tone that was 
habitual with him in dealings with his associates. If 
the Prussian treasury was empty, that of France was 
bankrupt, and Frederick's constant reproaches did 
not make his allies any better natured or any more 
inclined to inconvenience themselves to accommodate 
him. He asked for twelve million francs, and he 
wanted them without delay ; by dint of the efforts of 
Argenson, always his friend and admirer, it was at 
last decided to offer a subsidy of five hundred thousand 
livres a month ; it would have been wiser to refuse the 
request altogether. " It is a subsidy that might be 
offered to a Landgrave of Darmstadt," said Frederick 
contemptuously, and he refused to accept it.^ 

Throughout their second alliance with Frederick the 
policy of the French was the most unwise they could 
have adopted ; they neither acceded to all his re- 
quests, which possibly would have kept him faithful 
to the cause, nor did they consider only their own in- 
terests and leave him to his fate, as he was sure to 
leave them at the proper time. Frederick's conduct 
towards his allies in 1742 was treacherous, but no 
such charge can be made in 1745. If the French 
continued to trust him, it showed that they would not 
' Mem. de Valori, i. 241. 


see, for the king made no effort to conceal the fact 
that he should consider only his own interests. " God 
keep me from embarking again with such ungrateful 
friends and such miserable politicians," he said, and 
in his letters to the French court he stated the same 
thing in hardly less vigorous language.^ 

The English had not been able to induce Maria 
Theresa to abandon her hopes of humbling Frederick, 
but they resolved to support her no longer in such 
an endeavor. On August 26, 1745, a convention was 
signed between England and Prussia by which these 
countries made peace, and Frederick was guaranteed 
the possession of Silesia. 

The queen found consolation for the desertion of 
her English allies in success in another quarter ; a 
desire as dear to her heart as the recovery of her lost 
Silesia was at last gratified. From the first it had 
been apparent to any one who was not blinded by 
prejudice that the election of the grand duke as em- 
peror was a certainty, and if there had been any 
doubt, this result was insured by the conduct of the 
French. The laws of the empire required that the 
electors should be free from intimidation, and that no 
armies should approach the place where they met. It 
was a rule never respected when there was a contested 
election, and the presence of forty thousand French 
soldiers had materially helped to secure the choice of 
Charles VII. But now the troops under Conti, the 
only French army in Germany, recrossed the Rhine. 
" We will act on those German princes metaphysically, 
instead of physically," said Argenson, with his usual 
philosophical optimism, " and all good German pa- 
triots, freed from the irritation excited by a French 
1 Pol. Cor., iv. 305. 


army, will not hesitate to cast their votes for the Elec- 
tor of Saxony." It was with good cause that Freder- 
ick prayed God to deliver him from such politicians. 
Maria Theresa was not troubled by these scruj^les, 
and the power of Austria was exerted in bringing 
the electors to the support of the grand duke. There 
was little trouble in inducing them to adopt this 
course ; when once French pressure was removed, the 
electoral body naturally reverted to the support of 
the Austrian candidate, as it had done for centuries. 
The meeting of the electoral college was called for 
September. Frederick contented himself with pro- 
testing mildlj^, and directed his representatives to take 
no part. The French were placed in a less dignified 
position ; they continued to protest against the elec- 
tion, and no one heeded their protests ; they pressed 
the claims of the Elector of Saxony, and no one would 
listen to their arguments ; even their representative, 
on the plea that his passports were not sufficient, was 
turned back and failed to gain admission into Frank- 
fort. As a final humiliation, the ambassador of Au- 
gustus III., the Saxon elector, whom Argenson had 
selected as the candidate of France, announced that 
his own vote would be cast for the grand duke. This 
was the last blow, and even the hopefulness of Argen- 
son could not bear up under it ; Augustus was an 
ingrate and an imbecile, the minister complained, he 
might have been the master and he chose to be the 
slave.^ Such laments did not improve the situation ; 
on the 13th of September, 1745, Maria Theresa's 
husband, the former Duke of Lorraine and the pres- 
ent Grand Duke of Tuscany, was unanimously elected 
as chief of the Holy Roman Empire, and on the 4th 
^ Argenson to St. Severin, August, 1745. 


of October he was consecrated emperor as Francis 
tlie First. 

It was not the emperor who was the centre of at- 
traction to the great multitude gathered at Frank- 
fort for this fete ; the eyes of all were turned upon 
the heroic queen, who had sustained herself against 
Europe in arms, who, left alone and friendless, had 
saved from destruction the heritage of her forefathers, 
who had regained for her family the dignity which 
had so long been theirs, and now placed on her hus- 
band's brow the crown of Charlemagne. It was with 
good reason that the plaudits of the multitude went 
up as Maria Theresa stood in the balcony of the 
Hotel de Ville, waving her handkerchief and crying 
*' Long live Francis First," when her husband went 
by in solemn procession. 

The election of Francis gratified a desire which the 
queen had pursued with unwavering tenacity from the 
day of her father's death; but vengeance upon her 
despoiler was equally dear to her heart, and to accom- 
plish this she needed peace with France. England had 
already made terms with Frederick, and another bril- 
liant victory had proved the genius of Prussia's king. 
At Sohr, on September 30, 1745, thirty thousand 
Austrians attacked the Prussian army only nineteen 
thousand strong. They had been able to steal a march 
on Frederick's vigilance and burst upon him un- 
awares ; his camp was plundered, his private papers 
captured, and Maria Theresa had the satisfaction of 
studying the wiles and devices of her enemy. It 
was the only satisfaction she derived from the battle 
of Sohr. 

At first Frederick's position seemed hopeless ; " at 
Hohenfriedberg," he said, " I was fighting for Silesia, 


but at Sohr I fought for my life."^ But his readiness 
did not desert him, and the advantage the Austrians 
gained by the surprise was soon overcome by his skill- 
ful dispositions ; while eight thousand Pandours were 
reveling in the plunder of the camp and drinking 
the good wines intended for the king of Prussia, 
Frederick rallied his men, and their superior disci- 
pline counterbalanced any inferiority in numbers ; the 
battle resulted in a great Prussian victory .^ 

When Maria Theresa had such an opponent, she 
could spare no forces for distant campaigns. From 
the events of the last two years she had also learned 
that there was no prospect of conquering Alsace and 
Lorraine ; the French had now three hundred thou- 
sand men under arms, and they had Marshal Saxe for 
a leader ; not only could they repel invasion from 
their frontiers, but they could continue their victorious 
career in the Low Countries. 

The only advantage which France could derive 
from a continuance of the war was to strengthen her 
northern boundary by the acquisition of additional 
territory in Flanders, and of all her possessions, Maria 
Theresa was most willing to sacrifice the Low Coun- 
tries. The occupation of Silesia by Prussia was a 
constant menace to Vienna itself, but while additional 
territory in Flanders would be an important gain for 
France, it would be an unimportant loss for Austria. 
Unless the men governing France were bereft of wis- 
dom, it seemed that they would "now be glad to make 
peace upon terms advantageous to their own country, 
and Maria Theresa would thus be left free to concen- 

1 Mem. de Valori, i. 249. 

^ See Pol. Cor. J iv. 291, etc., for Frederick's account of this 


trate all her forces for the prosecution of the war with 
Frederick, and be saved the bitter necessity of con- 
ceding favorable terms to one whom she stigmatized 
as a liar, a robber, and a blasphemer. 

It was accordingly intimated to the French envoys 
that the queen was ready to consider conditions of 
peace far different from those which she had de- 
manded two years before, and this intelligence was at 
once communicated to Versailles. If Kichelieu or 
Mazarin had been at the head of the government 
these overtures would have resulted in peace, France 
would have gained something by the war of the Aus- 
trian Succession, and the lives and money of the 
French people would not have been wasted in three 
years more of warfare. Unfortunately, on the throne 
was a listless monarch, to whom his intrigues with 
Mme. dc Pompadour were of more interest than 
whether Alsace should become German or Flanders 
should become French, and at the head of the de- 
partment of foreign affairs was an amiable philosopher 
who had decided that the boundaries of his country 
needed no further extension, and that the end to be 
sought was not to strengthen France, but to strengthen 
Prussia. In this endeavor he was successful, but it 
is doubtful if his countrymen owe him any gratitude 
for his exertions. It was, indeed, decided by a ma- 
jority of the coimcil that some response should be 
made to the overtures of Maria Theresa, but while 
Argenson obeyed the instruction of his colleagues, he 
did all in his power to prevent the success of negotia- 
tions which did not accord with his doctrines. France, 
he wrote, might wisely carry on war for four years 
more, if this was necessary to secure Silesia for Prus- 
sia; when liis representative received such instruc- 


tions he was not likely to smooth the road for a peace 
of which the real object was to leave Maria Theresa 
free to make another effort to win back that province.^ 

In the mean time events had marched with their cus- 
tomary rapidity when the interests of Frederick were 
concerned. A plan had been devised for the invasion 
of Prussia which would have been formidable had it 
been executed with vigor. The Austrian s and Saxons 
were to unite their forces in Saxony and proceed 
directly upon Berlin before Frederick could interpose 
any successful resistance. This project had been 
approved by Maria Theresa, and was to be put into 
effect by Prince Charles ; naturally the execution was as 
timid as the conception had been bold. In November, 
after much delay, the Austrian army entered Saxony, 
hoping to take Frederick unawares. But it was rarely 
that his vigilance was surprised, and he had already 
received secret information of these plans for the in- 
vasion of Prussia. Following his favorite policy of 
forestalling an attack by himself attacking, he at once 
invaded Saxony. At this exhibition of vigor Prince 
Charles's courage failed him, and he hastily fell back 
into Bohemia. " I was never so embarrassed in my 
life," wrote that helpless general.^ If he was uncer- 
tain what to do, Frederick was not; the Prussians 
continued to overrun Saxony, levying heavy contribu- 
tions and devastating that unfortunate country. On 
December 15, a great battle was fought at Kessels- 
dorf, near Dresden, and the Saxon army was annihi- 

Almost within sound of the cannon the representa- 
tives of France and Austria met to see if peace could 

^ Correspondance de Saxe, Aff. Etr. 

2 Letter of November 26, 1745, cited by Arneth. 


be made between their countries. Argenson had 
hampered the instructions he had been obliged to 
send with every restriction that could insure their 
failure, and they had been placed in the hands of a 
timid and inexperienced agent. Though Frederick 
had already agreed on terms with England, though 
he hardly concealed his purpose to make peace with 
Maria Theresa whenever satisfactory conditions could 
be obtained, Argenson refused to believe that the 
Prussian king would desert the French alliance. But 
even if the reports of Frederick's intentions that 
reached him from every diplomatic agent were correct, 
the minister would not allow this to modify his con- 
duct. The king of France, he said, in one of the 
sounding phrases he loved to utter, would rather be 
deceived by others than himself deceive. Such was* 
not the maxim of the monarch he so greatly admired, 
for Frederick laid down, among many other reasons 
for deserting his allies, the suspicion that they might 
desert him. 

In his heart Argenson was unwilling to make any 
peace which would leave Austria free to act against 
Frederick, and might defeat that growth of the power 
of Prussia which he deemed vital to the best interests 
of France. Yet so eager was Maria Theresa to agree 
upon terms that she was willing to make great con- 
cessions. The French envoy said that under no cir- 
cumstances must France be required to act against 
Frederick, and Harrach replied that this was not de- 
manded. In the Low Countries Harrach offered to 
cede to France Ypres and Furnes, and he was author- 
ized to yield still more. But this availed nothing, for 
Vaulgrenant had been instructed that no peace could 
be made unless the demands of Don Philip of Spain 


were fully satisfied. Harrach said that Maria The- 
resa would cede to him the duchies of Parma and 
Piacenza and Pavia, a more extensive principality 
than he was ever actually to secure. He must have 
also Alexandria and Tortona, said the French repre- 
sentative, following strictly his instructions. "You 
cannot ask for them," replied Harrach ; " they belong 
to the king of Sardinia ; my mistress has no right to 
give them away." It was in vain that he argued thus. 
Vaulgrenant said that his instructions were precise 
and he could yield nothing ; it was with dismay that 
Harrach found that no advantages for France would 
induce the representatives of that country to abandon 
impossible demands for a Spanish prince. At break 
of day the conference ended, and Harrach reluctantly 
'turned his attention to an adversary who sought 
advantages for himself and not for his kinsfolk.^ 

France could have secured for herself half a dozen 
great cities; she could have obtained new territory 
that would have increased her wealth and strength- 
ened her frontier; instead of this, she involved her- 
self in three years more of warfare, because she in- 
sisted on acquisitions for a Spanish prince to which 
he had no shadow of just claim ;' it was not the only 
time in the eighteenth century that the alliance with 
Spain proved a misfortune for France. 

Thus the negotiations for peace came to an end, 
to the regret of Maria Theresa and to the satisfaction 
of Argenson ; nothing now remained for the empress 
queen but to abandon her hopes of recovering Silesia 

1 This abortive negotiation, which might have changed the 
condition of Europe, can be followed in Cor. de Saxe, 1745, AJf. 
Etr. An account based upon the Austrian authorities is given 
in Arneth, t. iii. 


and make terras with Frederick. The defeats of Sohr 
and Kesselsdorf had discouraged her anticipations of 
military success ; her ally, Augustus III., had been 
obliged to fly from Dresden and seek refuge in Prague, 
while Frederick pillaged Saxony with an earnest 
resolve to bring the elector to terms. " I don't like 
to carry on war like Attila," he wrote, " but it is my 
only resource. Eighty thousand soldiers in a country 
like Saxony cannot fail to ruin it in time." ^ Augus- 
tus had not sufficient fortitude to remain in exile and 
watch the systematic devastation of his country, and 
he consented to make peace with Prussia. 

The Austrian ambassador had been instructed that 
if he could reach no conclusion with France he 
must addresp himself to Frederick and be prepared 
to accede to the convention of Hanover. Harrach 
found the representatives of France slow, timid, and 
ignorant as to the interests of their country, but he 
had no occasion for such complaints when at last he 
intimated to Frederick that Austria was ready to lay 
down her arms. The wise king felt the importance of 
obtaining peace, and peace at once ; he knew that his 
mission was to strengthen Prussia, and not to waste 
the forces of his people in building up other states, 
or in gratifying the ambition of needy kinsmen ; he 
allowed no secondary considerations to stand in the 
way of a treaty which should secure what was of real 
importance ; in other words, Frederick showed as 
much wisdom as the French had shown folly, and 
procured for himself the advantages which they had 
thrown away. Such was not the conclusion which 
Harrach had desired ; like Maria Theresa, he wanted 
peace with France and war with Prussia. " A curse 
» PoL Cor., iv. 372, 376. 


on all negotiations ! " lie wrote. " That which I had at 
heart met with failure, and that which I detest pro- 
gresses with all imaginable success." ^ It was with 
an unwilling hand that on Christmas, 1745, he signed 
the treaty of Dresden, which secured Silesia to Fred- 
erick. Argenson had been loath to make peace with 
Austria without the cooperation of Prussia, but this 
feeling was not reciprocated by Frederick. There was 
indeed no reason why either party should not secure 
terms advantageous to itself, whenever they could be 
obtained. "You certainly should have known long 
ago that I would make peace, and you have only 
yourself to thank for it," Frederick said with entire 
truth to the French ambassador.^ Once again France 
was left to carry on alone war against Austria and 
England, not for any advantages for herself, but in 
pursuance of the ruinous treaties and alliances to 
which she had become a party. " At least, Prussia 
has secured Silesia," was Argenson's consolation when 
he discovered that, as he would not abandon Fred- 
erick, Frederick had decided to abandon him ; 
whether this was an advantage which justified France 
in undertaking a seven years' war is for posterity to 

So far as material results were concerned, Freder- 
ick gained nothing by violating the treaty of Breslau ; 
his hopes of conquest in Bohemia were disappointed ; 
his zeal for the emperor, as his own writings show, was 
a mere pretense ; his interference was not required to 
save France from dismemberment. The war had been 

1 Harrach to Ulfeld, December 23, 1746. 

2 Pol. Cor., iv. 390. 

^ *' Es war die erste Skizze des Werkes das die Siege von 1870 
vollendet haben," Droysen justly says. 


disastrous for the French while it was carried on in 
Germany, but when tlie scene of action was trans- 
ferred to their own boundaries, fortune changed ; a 
great leader was found in Maurice de Saxe, and neither 
Alsace nor Lorraine would have been lost to France 
if Frederick had remained tranquil. In the war which 
he undertook he exposed to imminent peril what he 
had already acquired, and he was glad to obtain peace 
on terms which left to him exactly what had been 
secured by the treaty of Breslau ; he gained nothing, 
and he lost nothing. But if he had taken great risks 
and had not added to his domains, he had obtained 
what was equally dear to him, the admiration of his 
fellows ; he had shown himself a great general, he 
had proved himself a great politician, he had escaped 
dangers which threatened his overthrow, he had 
established his position as the foremost man in Eu- 
rope ; if he had acquired no new provinces, he had 
gained fame, and when he returned to Berlin in tri- 
umph, for the first time the cry was heard, " Long live 
Frederick the Great ! " Many a sovereign has been 
thus greeted in his lifetime, but since Charlemagne, 
only Peter of Russia and Frederick of Prussia have 
retained the title with posterity. 

While the French were carrying on war against 
Maria Theresa in Germany and the Low Countries, 
in order to secure for. Don Philip the principalities 
that had been promised him, hostilities proceeded in 
Italy without any very decided advantage to either 
party. It was late in 1743 when the treaty of Fon- 
tainebleau was signed, by which Louis promised to 
secure Milan, Parma, and Piacenza for his cousin. 
The campaign of the next year was not important in 
its results, but in 1745 the allied armies carried all 


before them. Nice and Savoy were easily taken ; 
Genoa joined the French; their armies penetrated 
into Piedmont, captured Tortona, Asti, and Casale, 
and laid siege to Alessandria. Charles Emmanuel 
was defeated at Bassignano and retreated in dismay ; 
it seemed possible for the allies to reach Turin and 
become masters of all Piedmont. 

Such was the course advocated by those familiar 
with the art of warfare, but it was not adopted. The 
Spanish queen had as implicit confidence in her tal- 
ents for war as for diplomacy, and to her mind the 
way to carry on the campaign was to seize the prov- 
inces she wanted for her son and let everything else 
take care of itself. It was in vain that the French 
commanders remonstrated against a plan which would 
leave the army spread over a great territory and far 
removed from any base of supplies, with the Austrians 
on one side and the Sardinians on the other. The 
French ambassador was instructed to see the queen 
herself and ask her consent to a more rational system 
of operations, but he met with no success. He found 
the king and queen in bed, — they were generally in bed 
when they held their audiences, — but no sooner did 
he suggest the views of his court as to the campaign 
than the queen became so excited by this opposition 
to her plans that it was with difficulty she could ex- 
press herseK ; her sentences poured out half finished 
and little connected. " We know what we will do," 
she cried ; " they want to treat us as infants ; every 
one must think for himself." So violent was her pas- 
sion that she would talk no more, and proceeded to 
rise, though it was before the customary hour. " It 
is too early to get up," murmured the king, who at 
last took part in the conversation. " Stay in bed, if 


you want to," vociferated his wife ; " I wish to leave." 
The ambassador judged that his own further stay was 
injudicious, and the interview closed.^ 

The orders already sent by the Spanish court were 
not modified, and, following the commands of their im- 
perious mistress, the Spanish troops separated from 
their French allies and entered the territories of which 
the infante hoped to become the sovereign. For a 
while they met with no opposition; Parma, Pavia, 
and Piacenza were captured. Exultant at his success, 
the infante pushed further on, and in December, 
1745, he took possession of the city of Milan and laid 
siege to the citadel.^ 

These victories were possible because there were 
no forces with which to oppose the Spanish advance, 
but Philip had hardly made his entry into the city 
of which he hoped to become the duke, when Maria 
Theresa again made peace with Frederick, and thirty 
thousand soldiers advanced by forced marches to free 
Lombardy from invasion. By February, 1746, they 
reached the Po. The position of Don Philip was now 
dangerous ; an overweening confidence was followed 
by acute alarm ; the Spanish abandoned Milan, leav- 
ing part of their artillery in their haste ; Parma and 
Pavia were captured by the Austrians, and Philip 
sent word to the French that they must come to his 
rescue. The union of the two armies did not improve 
the situation, and they were defeated by Prince Lich- 

1 Vaur^al to Argenson, 1745, Car. d'Espagne. 

2 " II ne reste qu'k sonhaiter que la suite des evdnements ne 
justifie point nostre sage prdvoyance, et que I'Espagne n'ait pas 
lieu de se repentir de s'estre livr^e avec trop de precipitation et 
de confiance k son envie d^mesurde de prendre possession des 
Milanois." Argenson to Rennes, January 11, 1746, Cor. (VEs- 
pagn€i 488. 


tenstein in the battle of Piacenza. " I hope they will 
make some change in their plan to hunt me out of 
Italy," said Maria Theresa in her exultation when she 
heard of the victory.^ 

The tide of fortune now ran steadily against the 
allies ; they lost all they had gained in Italy, and by 
the winter of 1746, the condition of affairs had so 
changed that the Austrians invaded Provence, Nei- 
ther in their prosperity nor in their adversity did 
united counsels prevail in the courts any more than 
in the armies of France and Spain. In the autumn of 
1745, the extravagant demands made for Don Philip 
had repelled Maria Theresa and had driven her to 
make peace with Frederick, but in the winter follow- 
ing Argenson tried to win the king of Sardinia to his 
favorite scheme of a confederation of Italian princes, 
and offered for his assistance far more liberal terms 
than would have been acceptable to Spain.^ The time 
had not come for a confederacy of Italian states any 
more than for an united Italy, and no one knew this 
better than Charles Emmanuel. He considered the 
propositions of the French minister while it seemed 
possible that France could hold the advantages she 
had gained, and rejected them when the Austrian 
reinforcements arrived. It was never difficult to get 
the better of Argenson in diplomatic finesse ; " that 
man," said Richelieu, " was born to be a secretary of 
state in the Republic of Plato ; " it is certain that he 
was sadly out of place among European diplomats in 
the last century, to whom good faith was a thing 

^ Erizzo, July 2, 1746, cited by Arneth. 

2 These negotiations can be followed in Cor. de Turin, 1745-46, 
and in Carutti's Storia di Carlo Emmanuele. The idea of an 
Italian confederacy Argenson obtained from Chauvelin. 


unknown. At the last moment, Charles abruptly 
terminated the negotiations, surprised the French 
generals, who understood the king of Sardinia was 
now their ally, and raised the siege of Alessandria. 

These abortive negotiations had for their only effect 
to increase the suspicion with which the Spanish queen 
always regarded France. To gain the alliance of 
Sardinia the French had promised Milan to its king, 
but they had already promised to conquer this province 
for the son of Elizabeth Farnese. " And the treaty 
of Fontainebleau," cried the Spanish queen, when it 
was suggested that she should agree to such an 
arrangement, "is there nothing sacred in the world?" 
" How many times have I told you that France would 
treat us as she always has done," she said, turning to 
her husband ; and having thus expressed herseK, she 
refused to discuss the matter further. ^ 

The disasters in Italy offset the great victories which 
the French gained in Flanders, and the Spanish alli- 
ance, instead of an advantage, was felt to be a positive 
hindrance. " It is like a ball attached to the leg of 
a criminal," said Argenson ; " if the Spanish would 
only desert our alliance, we might keep our conquests 
for ourselves; as it is, the king holds them only to 
exchange for establishments for the infante." ^ 

The Spanish were quite willing to make terms for 
themselves if they could obtain what they wanted, 
and the family compact was not treated as eternal or 
indissoluble by one side any more than by the other. 
Secret agents offered the alliance of Spain to Maria 
Theresa and her cooperation in conquering Lorraine 
from France, if Don Philip could have what he 

^ Yaur^al to Argenson, January 27, 1746. 

* Argenson to Vaureal, 1746, pas. ; Cor. d'Esp., 488, 9. 


desired.^ These suggestions found no favor with the 
empress queen : what she must give to Don Philip 
was a certain loss ; what might be conquered from 
France was an uncertain gain. The war continued, 
but the burden of finding an establishment for the 
infante was soon thrown entirely on France. The 
Duke of Noailles was sent on a solemn embassy to 
Madrid, to assure their Catholic majesties that Louis 
XV. would attend to the interests of his son-in-law, 
even at the hazard of his own frontiers, but iilso to 
suggest, in view of the terrible burden of this long 
war, that perhaps an abatement could be made from 
the great promises contained in the treaty of Fon- 
tainebleau. He was received with politeness, but he 
could accomplish nothing; Philip and his wife de- 
clined to waive anything that had been promised by 
the treaty ; it was for France to fulfill her agreements, 
or stand convicted of perfidy and bad faith.^ 

But on July 9, 1746, Philip V. of Spain died sud- 
denly of apoplexy. His succession to the throne had 
caused one of the greatest wars in European history, 
and for forty-six years he had been the king of that 
country; his life had been plunged in gloom and 
depression, his mind obscured by superstition and prej- 
udice, his body weighed down by disease and fat ; now 
making vows of abdication, now vowing that he would 
never abdicate, but always governed by his wife and 
his confessor, he had at last finished his long, strange, 
profitless career. 

If his influence had been slight while he was alive, 

^ These negotiations are related in Arneth's Geschichte Maria 
Theresias. It does not appear very clearly how far these agents 
were authorized. 

^ Correspondance de Louis X V. et du due de Noailles. 


his deatli worked a great change in Spanish politics, 
for it closed the extraordinary career of Elizabeth 
Farnese. Ferdinand VI., the son of Philip by his 
first wife, succeeded him on the throne, and the step- 
mother had no influence over the new sovereign. She 
left the palace where she had reigned so absolutely 
and been loved so little. *' I have seen many funeral 
processions," wrote a spectator describing her parting, 
" but never one that made on me so strong an impres- 
sion ; it seemed like a living person going to her own 
burial." 1 

The new king was Spanish by birth, and his mother 
was a Piedmontese ; he was not inclined to regulate 
the policy of Spain to suit the taste of France. His 
own inclinations were not, however, of much impor- 
tance. In many respects Ferdinand resembled his 
father ; he had been reared in ignorance, his health 
was infirm, his temperament melancholy, and he was 
controlled by his wife, who was a Portuguese princess. 
It was Maria who succeeded to Elizabeth, rather than 
Ferdinand to Philip.^ 

Whether the decision was to be made by the new 
king or the new queen, it was certain that Spain 
would not exhaust her resources in advancing the 
fortunes of Don Philip. The Spanish army remained 
in the field, but it was not reinforced, Genoa was left 
to be captured by the Austrians, and no further efforts 
were made to obtain possession of the territories de- 
sired by the infante. Ferdinand felt that the French 
had made many conquests which they could exchange 
for an establishment for Louis XV.'s son-in-law, and 
he did not care to expose his own forces to further 

1 Vaur^al to Argensou, August 6, 1746. 

2 Erizzo, August 13, 1746 ; Vaur^al to king, July 11, 1746. 


peril in his half-brother's behalf. It is doubtful if 
Spain could have done much more, even if her sov- 
ereign had been so inclined. The exertions already 
made had been a severe drain on a poor and ill-gov- 
erned country ; it was with difficulty that Elizabeth 
had sustained an army of twenty thousand men in 
Italy, and the Spanish navy was reduced to twelve 
ships, an unimportant factor in a war against the 
greatest maritime power in the world.^ 

Small as was the contribution of Spain to the allied 
armies, she demanded the control of their movements. 
The French soldiers were more numerous, their lead- 
ers had greater experience, but the Spanish insisted 
on the adoption of their plans, and with the docility 
which Louis showed to all demands from Spain, his 
generals were bidden to act in conformity with the 
wishes of their imperious allies. During most of these 
campaigns Don Philip himself was the Spanish com- 
mander, though officers under him must have felt that 
obedience was due to his rank rather than to his ca- 
pacity. The prince was approaching thirty, but he 
displayed the intellectual sluggishness of many of his 
family, and seemed hardly more than a boy. The 
French marshal who commanded in Italy saw with 
amazement his superior amusing himself at hide and 
seek, and puss in the corner. Don Philip himseK felt 
a certain incongruity between such amusements and 
his rank and age ; spies were placed to inform him 
when the gray-haired marshal, who had seen service 
for forty years, approached to receive his commands, 

^ Cor.d'Espagne,pas.y 17 11 15 . The nominal size of this fleet 
was larger, but there was always a great discrepancy between 
the nominal and the effective forces. 


so that he might not be surprised in the very act of 
crying " I spy." ^ 

With inefficient leaders and divided counsels, it was 
not strange that no further progress was made in 
Italy ; there was only one engagement of importance 
in the year 1747, and in that the French were de- 
feated. It was not in Italy, but at Aix-la-Chapelle 
that the fortunes of the young prince, for whom 
so great ejfforts had been made, were to be finally 
decided ; the victories of Marshal Saxe in Flanders 
secured for the infante the possessions that he was 
unable to conquer for himself. 

^ Conversation of Marshal Belle Isle, reported by the Duke 
of Luynes, Mem., x. 123. 



While the foundation of Prussia's future great- 
ness was secured by the treaty of Dresden, the desti- 
nies of France were affected by transactions of a very 
different nature. Louis XV.'s tears over Mine, de 
Chateauroux were soon dried, and his attention was 
turned to a woman who, during almost twenty years, 
did much to lessen the respect for the crown and to 
lower the position of France. It was certain that 
some one would be found to fill the place of Mme. de 
Chateauroux, and the position was coveted by all who 
were moved by ambition and not squeamish about 
virtue. Of such there was no lack. The place left 
vacant by Mme. de Chateauroux, wrote a courtier, was 
desired by all the ladies of the court.^ Even if 
this statement was too sweeping, it is certain that 
many of them were ready to fill it, but their hopes 
were doomed to disappointment. 

The woman who obtained the prize played so im- 
portant a part in French politics that to pass her by 
with scanty notice would be affectation ; one can no 
more slight Mme. de Pompadour in the history of 
Louis XV. than Fleury or Choiseul. The record of 
royal amours is usually as unimportant as it is unedify- 
ing ; the frail beauty who obtains the king's favor pro- 
cures titles and wealth for herself, and she influences 
^ Souvenirs de Val/ons, 130. 


the bestowal of favors and pensions upon others ; she 
is naturally a person of much importance for her con- 
temporaries, and of very little interest for posterity. 
It is far otherwise with Mme. de Pompadour : during 
many years she exercised on the government of France 
a larger influence than any other person in the king- 
dom ; a history of her rule would be properly entitled 
France under Mme. de Pompadour ; for a period little 
shorter than the ministries of Richelieu, of Mazarin, 
and of Fleury she held a power not far inferior to that 
of the famous cardinals ; the stern genius of Riche- 
lieu, the extraordinary sagacity of Mazarin, the judi- 
cious mildness of Fleury, were succeeded by the petty 
jealousies and the feminine ambitions of a Pompadour. 
However lamentable were the results of her adminis- 
tration, she was no commonplace woman ; not only 
was she beautiful and gifted, an intelligent patron of 
art, and excelling in the accomplishments which give 
a charm to life, but she had traits of character found 
in those born to rule ; she was not content with the 
triumphs of her theatre, nor with giving her name 
to dresses and fashions ; it was not enough that there 
should be Pompadour ribbons and fans and head- 
dresses ; she had the love of power, the desire to rule, 
the wish to leave her name to the French people 
as one who had done great things for the country; 
she had the ambition of a Catherine II. without her 

Jeanne Antoinette Poisson was born in 1721.^ Her 
father was a subordinate of the Paris brothers, the 
great public contractors ; her mother, it was said, was 
the daughter of a butcher, a woman equally known for 

^ Mme. de Pompadour's birth is usually put in 1722, but 
according to the baptismal certificate she was born in 1721. 


beauty and for numerous gallantries which she took 
no pains to conceal. The father's reputation was as 
checkered as that of the mother, and in 1726 he was 
charged with rendering false accounts in reference to 
the subsistence of the troops. Frauds of this nature 
were common in a corrupt administration; Poisson 
was probably as guilty as many others and perhaps 
no more so, but he was selected for an example and 
was condemned to be hanged. To escape that penalty 
he fled from France, and for many years he remained 
in exile.^ Mme. Poisson felt no inclination to share 
her husband's fate, and she continued to be an admired 
member of what may be called the society of the city 
as distinguished from the more aristocratic circles of 
Versailles. In this could be found the wealthy gov- 
ernment contractors, the great bankers, men famous 
in literature, wits, painters, and poets, and amid such 
surroundings the young Antoinette Poisson grew up. 
She soon became one of the greatest ornaments of the 
social world in which she moved, and in due time she 
was married to Lenormant d'Etioles, the nephew of a 
rich farmer-general, a young man possessed of much 
wealth and little wit. He was enamored by the 
charms of the beauty he had won, and she found in 
marriage the only thing she sought, an opportunity to 
indulge her tastes for luxury, for artistic enjoyment, 
and social prominence. It was at this period that she 
was described by President Henault, a man who for 
long years had seen all that was most attractive in 
the society of the court and the town : " I have met 
one of the prettiest women I have ever seen, Mme. 
d'Etioles ; she is an accomplished musician, she sings 
with all possible taste and gayety, and plays comedies 
^ Mem. de Luynes, vii. 67, 68. 


at Etioles in a theatre which equals the best at 
Paris." 1 

But the adoration of poets and farmers-general did 
not satisfy the ambition of this young beauty ; she 
longed for admission to the more elevated circles 
which were closed to a bourgeoise, and she cherished 
the hope that if charms such as hers could be brought 
to the notice of a pleasure-loving king, he could not 
resist their attraction ; the widow of a comedian had 
become the wife of Louis XIV., and the wife of a 
contractor could at least aspire to be the mistress of 
his successor. 

If Mme. d'Etioles was not received at the court, 
she found other opportunities to bring herself to the 
king's notice. When Louis went to the hunt, he 
often encountered a young beauty coquettishly attired ; 
now she appeared as a Diana in blue, in a rose-colored 
phaeton ; again she was a huntress in rose, in a car- 
riage of azure ; but however she appeared, she was 
always bewitching. 

In February, 1745, Louis met the charming Diana 
at a ball at the Hotel de Ville. Mme. de Chateau- 
roux had been dead for two months, and the gossips 
of the court soon began to consider the possibility of 
the king choosing her successor from the ranks of the 
bourgeoisie. The possibility became a certainty, but 
the beautiful huntress met with a chilling reception in 
the circles to which the favor of the king introduced 
her. This hostility was due, not to her lack of morals, 
but to her lack of pedi^ee ; the conduct of the king 
infringed upon long established usage ; if no statute 
prescribed the quarterings required for a royal mis- 
tress, yet when the sovereign went outside of the circles 
1 Hdnault to Mme. du Deffand, July 18, 1742. 


of Versailles to make his selection, the nobility felt, 
says the Duke of Broglie, as if this were an infringe- 
ment upon their privileges. The favorite could use 
no phrase, could make no gesture, which indicated a 
lack of familiarity with the usages of the court, without 
exposing herself to the sneers of a crowd of hereditary 
courtiers. But she had arts of pleasing which enabled 
her to withstand all intrigues formed for her overthrow, 
and Louis justly declared her the most charming 
woman in France. In later years her health became 
impaired and her comeliness faded, yet she never lost 
her favor with Louis XV. The influence which she 
had gained by beauty, by wit, and by grace was re- 
tained by pandering to the vices of a man plunged in 
a sluggish sensuality, and was used in a manner which 
accounts for some of the most ignominious chapters 
in the history of France. But for the present Mme. 
de Pompadour, as she was now called, occupied herself 
in strengthening her hold on Louis's affections ; it was 
not until later that she turned her attention to choos- 
ing ministers and shaping foreign policy. 

While Louis was occupied with his new favorite, 
Marshal Saxe pursued his career of glory. It was 
contrary to the usages of the age to attempt important 
military operations in cold weather ; the armies went 
into- winter quarters; the officers returned to the pleas- 
ures of Paris and Versailles ; a campaign which 
lasted for six months was regarded as a long one. 
In a treatise on the art of war, which Maurice wrote 
when a young man, he had disapproved of these long 
seasons of repose, and he now acted upon his own 
theories.^ While most of his officers hastened home, 
he remained with the army, but to dispel any suspi- 
1 Mes Reveries, ii. 30. 


cions it was asserted that his infirmities rendered it 
impossible for him to undertake the journey to Paris. 
The marshal had as strong a taste for the pleasures of 
life as any of his subordinates, and he sought diversion 
during a tedious winter by indulging in his favorite 
sport of fighting cocks and by attending the perform- 
ances at his theatre. 

While Maurice was apparently absorbed in watch- 
ing cocks thrust spurs into each other, and hearing 
pretty women sing songs of questionable propriety, he 
was secretly making preparations for an important 
movement. In January, 1746, the French forces in 
the Netherlands were rapidly concentrated, and by 
the 30th they were under the walls of Brussels. If 
a horde of Tartars had appeared before the city, it 
would hardly have caused greater surprise than the 
sight of the French army undertaking the siege of an 
important place in the dead of winter. The more un- 
expected the movement, so much the more easy was 
its success. Brussels was not strongly fortified, and the 
garrison was under the command of Count Kaunitz, a 
man who afterwards became famous as a diplomat, 
but had neither experience nor aptitude for the role 
of a general. Under such circumstances it was im- 
possible to make a long resistance ; the allies could 
not come to the relief of the town, and on February 
20 Brussels surrendered, and the garrison of twelve 
thousand men became prisoners of war. The French 
loss during the siege was only about nine hundred 
men.i Fifty-two standards taken from the enemy 
were sent to Paris to adorn the great arches of her 
ancient cathedral ; it was already so full of such tro- 

^ Lettres et Mem. du Marechal de Saxe^ t. ii.; Espaguac, iL 


phies that it was difficult to find a place for more, 
and the populace dubbed Maurice the upholsterer of 
Notre Dame.^ Among other spoils was the oriflamme 
of Francis I., which had been captured at Pavia, and 
after more than two centuries was now sent trium- 
phantly back to Paris. Often as the French had waged 
war in the Low Countries, it was rarely that they had 
penetrated as far as Brussels, and though the capture 
of the capital had been attempted, it had never been 
accomplished ; now the French were practically mas- 
ters of the whole of the Austrian Netherlands, and 
there was no one who could compel them to surrender 
their conquests. 

Nothing more could be done at present, and Mau- 
rice returned to Paris to enjoy the glory of his 
achievements. The victor of Fontenoy and the cap- 
tor of Brussels was received with the boundless enthu- 
siasm which the French always bestow on a successful 
general. Even at the barriers of the city he met inti- 
mations of the applause in store for him. The octroi 
on provisions entering a town, the mediaeval impost 
which the French have never made sufficient progress 
in political economy to replace by less burdensome 
duties, was in force then as it is now, and the carriage 
in which Maurice rode was stopped at the gate by a 
subordinate to see if it contained anything subject to 
duty. " What do you mean by stopping the marshal," 
cried a superior, who recognized him. " Do you think 
that laurels are subject to the octroi ? " 

Maurice had already received practical marks of the 
gratitude of the sovereign whom he served so well ; his 
offices and pensions yielded an income of three hun- 
dred thousand francs a year, and he had been granted 

^ Lettres de SaxCf ii. 167; Journal de Barbier, February, 1746. 


for life the magnificent property of Chambord where 
he supported the pomp and state of a sovereign.^ He 
now received new marks of distinction, which to a 
courtier would have seemed as valuable as those 
enormous emoluments. Louis XV. embraced him in 
the presence of the court, and he was admitted to the 
"grandes entrees," which gave him the right to view 
his sovereign in bed. 

Maurice was little of a courtier, and the honors 
which he received from the public pleased him more 
than any entrees at Versailles. All his life he had 
been an enthusiastic lover of the stage ; he was known 
to the actors and only too well known to the actresses 
of Paris ; now he returned to receive their applause in 
the fullness of his glory. On the 18th of February, he 
attended the opera to see a representation of Armide ; 
the hall was filled to suffocation, and as Maurice en- 
tered he was greeted by cries of " Long live Marshal 
Saxe," and by a prolonged applause in which all joined 
save the ladies, whom a strict etiquette forbade to clap 
their hands.^ In the prologue of the opera was a 
passage, originally written for Louis XIV., in which 
Glory declares that all the universe must yield to tlie 
august hero whom she loves. Mile. Metz, a famous 
actress of the day, had the role of Glory, and as she 
sang these words she advanced to the edge of the stage 
with a crown of laurels, and endeavored to present it 
to the marshal. Maurice was unprepared for this eff u- 

1 For the amount of his pensions, see letter of Saxe, May 31, 
1745, cited by Broglie. 

2 Mile, de la Roche sur Yon, of the great Condd family, sent 
word to the marshal that if it were only the custom for ladies to 
clap their hands, she should have been the first to join in the 
applause of the public. Journal de BarbieTf February, 1746. 


sion and sought to decline, but enthusiastic spectators 
seized the crown and forced it upon him, while the 
opera house rang with frantic applause. " Such an 
honor," wrote one of the audience, " is well worth a 
Koman triumph. Marshal Saxe is crowned by Glory 
in the presence of the most brilliant audience in Eu- 
rope." ^ The part of Glory, he adds, was not an un- 
profitable one, for the marshal afterwards sent Mile. 
Metz a pair of earrings worth ten thousand livres. 

Maurice delighted in such scenes, and few men 
would have been unaffected by them, but he did not 
allow coronations by Glory to delay his return to the 
field, where he could show that such honors were not 
undeserved. By April, he was again with his army, 
but the vigor of his operations was hampered by the 
instructions of the government. It was among the 
many anomalies of this w^ar that the Dutch sent sol- 
diers to fight against the French, though the two nations 
were nominally at peace. The treaty of Utrecht had 
established a barrier of fortresses for the protection of 
Holland, and, though these belonged to Austria, the 
Dutch were bound to furnish soldiers for their defense. 
The barrier, to obtain which so much blood had been 
shed, proved of as little use to Holland as the Bour- 
bons in Spain to France ; in time of peace the Dutch 
had no need of a barrier, and in time of war it did 
not keep away the French. The most of Flanders had 
already been conquered, and it was now said that it 
was time to notify the Dutch that they must cease giv- 
ing aid to the enemies of France, or the French armies 
without more delay would carry the war into Holland 
itself. Such a course would have been wise, and it 
was desired by Maurice, but it did not accord with 
1 Barbier, iv. 132-134. 


the pacific views of the minister for foreign affairs, 
whose voice was now most influential in Louis's coun- 
cils. Maurice was accordingly instructed not to allow 
any pursuit of the enemy to lead him into an invasion 
of Dutch soil ; the allies prudently kept near the 
boundary, and the campaign of 1746 was mostly 
occupied in capturing the cities which the Austrians 
still held in Flanders. Mons, Charleroi, Namur, and 
Antwerp were taken with little difficulty, but further 
advance was checked, not by any seriotis obstacles in 
the way, but by the instructions of the government. 

As he could not furnish his officers with much 
fighting, Maurice sought to supply other pleasures 
which were agreeable to him as well as to his subor- 
dinates. These campaigns of Maurice de Saxe in the 
Low Countries illustrate the manner in which war 
was carried on at its best under the old regime : when 
glory and pleasure went hand in hand, when the life 
of the camp was as gay as Versailles, with the addi- 
tional excitement of fighting, when officers gambled 
and reveled all night and went to face death with 
reckless gallantry in the morning. Maurice pro- 
fessed to act upon principle in trying to make army 
life interesting. French officers, he said, must be 
diverted, and when there was no fighting to do, he 
must supply something else. Accordingly a company 
of comedians was engaged, under the leadership of 
Favart, who was well known at Paris as a director 
and as an author, and a regular series of representa- 
tions was given at headquarters. "Your comedy," 
Maurice wrote him, " I do not regard simply as 
an object of amusement; it enters into my political 
views and into my plan of military operations." ^ In 
1 Mem. de Favart, Int. 22. 


addition to such considerations, Favart had a good 
troupe and he had a pretty wife, and both of these 
were agreeable to a general who no more allowed his 
occupations to interfere with his pleasures than his 
pleasures to interfere with his duties. 

The campaign of 1746 was not to end without some- 
thing of more importance than the successful perform- 
ance of comedies. Late in September, Prince Charles 
crossed the Meuse and encamped near the banks of the 
stream. The jtosition of the Austrian commander was 
singularly ill chosen, for his army was almost cut in 
two by deep ravines, while a retreat could only be 
made under great difficulties. Maurice hoped, there- 
fore, that by a successful attack he could annihilate the 
enemy's forces, as they were hemmed in by the hills 
and the river, and could not escape pursuit by a speedy 
retreat within the Dutch boundary. He at once re- 
solved to seize the opportunity, but with habitual 
secrecy he kept this decision to himself ; he never held 
councils of war, never asked advice from others, and 
never revealed his plans until he was ready for action. 

No one expected a battle ; it was now late in the 
season ; the officers were anticipating a speedy return 
to Paris, and the men were looking forward to winter 
quarters. The decision of the commander-in-chief was 
conveyed to his subordinates in a manner novel in the 
annals of warfare, but characteristic of Maurice de 
Saxe. On the 10th of October, he said to Favart, 
" To-morrow I shall give battle ; no one knows of this ; 
I wish you to announce it at the close of the represen- 
tation this evening in some couplets which you can 
prepare for the occasion." ^ In the evening the theatre 
was crowded as usual with officers of all ranks, who 
^ Mem. de Favart, 25-27, Theatre de Maurice de Saxe. 


watched the performance with satisfaction. At the 
close Chantilly, a pretty and popular actress, advanced 
to the front of the stage, and sang to a martial air 
some lines which informed the audience that on the 
morrow the theatre was to be closed, for to-morrow 
was to be a day of battle, a day of glory ; but on the 
following evening they were bidden to return and enjoy 
the fruits of their victory in listening to the perform- 
ance of the " Jolly Lovers " and " Cythera Besieged." 
At first the officers hardly knew whether to accept the 
comedienne as the mouthpiece of their commander, 
but they soon discovered that she spoke with authority, 
and if the announcement of a battle excited surprise, 
it was received with enthusiasm. So complete was the 
confidence in Maurice's genius that no one doubted the 
result ; the actors hired horses that they might watch 
the engagement, and the performance of " Cythera Be- 
sieged " on the day after the victory was regarded as 
certain as if it had been advertised at the Comedie 
FrauQaise in Paris. 

These antic^ipations were not disappointed, but rain 
and fog so delayed the movements of the French 
that not until afternoon did the battle fairly begin. 
Though it was stubbornly contested, Maurice suc- 
ceeded in driving the English and Dutch from their 
intrenchments, while the Austrians took little part in 
the engagement. Unfortunately for his plans the 
day was short, and by the time the enemy was dis- 
lodged it was already dark ; two hours more of day- 
light, said Maurice, and few of them could have 
escaped.^ It was impossible to pursue the fugitives 
in the darkness, and they made their retreat without 
serious difficulty. The allies lost some eight thousand 
' Mem. (VEspagnac, ii. 309. 


men, and the French had the glory of defeating them, 
but except for the moral effect, for the satisfaction 
which victory gave the French, for the recrimination 
and bickering it excited among their opponents, each 
of whom accused the other of having faint-hearted sol- 
diers and inefficient generals, the results of the battle 
of Roucoux were not important.^ On the following 
night the officers listened to the representation of the 
"Jolly Lovers," and greeted Maurice with enthusiastic 
applause when he made his appearance at the play. 

Nearly two years passed before peace was made. 
The French continued their uninterrupted progress 
in the Austrian Low Countries, and with little diffi- 
culty could have overrun Holland ; they were superior 
in numbers, and against Maurice de Saxe the allies 
had no chance of success even with equal forces. In 
1747, they were again defeated in a great battle at 
Lawfeldt ; the English soldiers fought with bravery 
but without success, the Austrians conducted them- 
selves with , the listlessness they often showed during 
these campaigns. Louis was present with his army 
at the battle, and was as just in his criticisms on the 
enemy's conduct as he was probably sincere in at- 
tributing the result to supernatural aid. This great 
victory, he wrote the queen, was due to the marked 
protection of the Virgin ; the battle was fought on 
the fete of the Visitation, and it was waged against 
heretics alone, for the Austrians, after their usual 
fashion, contented themselves with acting as benevo- 
lent spectators of the engagement.^ 

There were many reasons for the listless conduct 
of the Austrians ; the long war had exhausted the re- 

* See report and letters of Saxe, Mem. (TEspagnac^ etc. 

* Mem. de LuyneSj July 5, 1747. 


sources of Maria Theresa, and, even with the English 
subsidies, it was with difficulty she could keep her 
armies in the field. The campaigns in the Low 
Countries had also little interest for her ; these prov- 
inces were far removed, and by the treaty of Utrecht 
the most important fortresses were put in the charge 
of the Dutch. The maritime powers believed this 
barrier was required for the protection of Holland, 
but Maria Theresa regarded it as far less important 
to Austria than Silesia, or even Milan ; if the mari- 
time powers considered the Austrian Low Countries 
of vital importance, she thought it was their business 
to defend them. There was another reason which 
justified Maria Theresa in her indifference. While 
the French had conquered all of Flanders, they con- 
stantly declared they would not keep a foot of it. 
Similar claims of disinterestedness had, indeed, been 
made before by French statesmen at the beginnings of 
wars and foro^otten before their close ; but such was 
the character of the men then in the French councils, 
that the queen felt she could rely on their professions. 
Argenson had already begun negotiations for peace, 
and his first announcement was that France desired 
no conquests, she sought nothing for herself. Whether 
Maurice de Saxe took more or fewer cities seemed, 
therefore, unimportant, for they would all be returned 
when the war was over. 

E /en if the politicians would make no use of his 
victories, Maurice continued to win them. At last he 
obtained permission to advance into Holland, and in 
the spring of 1747, he entered Zealand ; he captured 
the Dutch fortresses without trouble, and soon made 
himself master of the entire course of the Scheldt. 
In July, he defeated the Duke of Cumberland at Law- 


feldt, and his favorite lieutenant, Lowendahl, laid 
siege to Berg op Zoom. This fortress was one of the 
strongest in the country; and was regarded as the key 
of Holland, but its strength was not sufficient to save 
it, and on September 16, the town surrendered. The 
news was received with dismay at Amsterdam and the 
great cities of Holland ; the Dutch had long been 
making war on France with the comfortable feeling 
that they themselves were safe from invasion, and they 
were amazed and terrified when the French at last 
ventured to cross their boundaries. 

While the French arms were successful on land, 
the English held the supremacy of the sea. It is not 
an overstatement that on the sea the English were 
twice as strong as the French at the beginning of the 
war, and this preponderance was largely increased 
before its close. The inferiority of the French navy 
was due to neglect and not to necessity. France 
exceeded England in population, the national revenues 
were larger, the facilities for shipbuilding were as 
good. But the attention of the government was con- 
centrated on the army ; remiss as were all branches 
of the administration, the department of the navy suf- 
fered most from neglect. In 1747, the minister of 
the marine estimated that with less than forty million 
livres it was possible so to increase the strength of the 
navy that it would be sufficient to protect the colonies 
and the foreign interests of France, and unless such 
an effort was made, he justly prophesied the loss of 
the French possessions in America.^ This sum was 
no more than Mme. de Pompadour received from the 
treasury to satisfy her taste for luxury and pomp, but 
the lavish expenditures of the court were not curtailed, 
^ Mem. of Maurepas, Novepiber 22, 1747. 


the strength of the navy was not increased, and both 
America and India were lost. 

The English navy won few great victories during 
this war, for the engagement at Toulon in 1744, the 
only one in which a large number of ships took part, 
resulted in a drawn battle. But in India the English 
fleet hampered the progress of Dupleix ; in the West 
it assisted the New England colonists and helped in 
the capture of Louisburg, the most important military 
possession of the French in America. The year 1747 
was marked by successes for the English which, while 
no one of them was very important, were in the aggre- 
gate disastrous to their adversaries. The French, with 
inferior forces, encountered Anson off Cape Finisterre 
and Hawke off Belle Isle, and in each engagement they 
suffered severely. Since the war began the French 
had lost twenty-four ships of the line, twelve hundred 
cannon, and over ten thousand men, and such losses 
were fatal to a navy that was feeble at the begin ning.^ 
The disasters suffered by the merchant marine were 
still more severe ; there were not sufficient war-ships 
to protect convoys, and it was not strange that many 
fell into the hands of the enemy. Though French 
privateers did much injury to English commerce, the 
losses of the English bore a much smaller proportion 
to their entire merchant shipping. 

While the English were victorious in the West, the 
French met with successes which might have proved 
of importance in the East. In 1746, Madras was cap- 
tured, and the efforts of Dupleix, had they been 
seconded by his government, would have established 
the ascendency of France in India. The condition of 
affairs in this great field received no attention at Ver- 
^ List published in Mem. de LuyneSy viii. 420. 


sailles; the news of the capture of Madras reached 
France seven months afterwards, and was followed by 
vague rumors of quarrels between Dupleix and Bour- 
donnais, but there does not seem to have been a man 
in France, and certainly there was not a man in the 
royal councils, who regarded the possibility of estab- 
lishing an Eastern empire as of the least importance ; 
the Indian question received no attention during the 
war, and was not deemed worthy of discussion in the 
negotiations for peace.^ 

Little heed was given to any extension of the 
French frontiers, or to the future of the French pos- 
sessions in India and America ; the sole object, appar- 
ently, for which the war was waged during the last 
three years was a satisfactory princij^ality in Italy for 
the son of Philip V. Argenson justly said that the 
king regarded his conquests in Flanders as valuable 
only for securing the interests of the infante.^ 

In 1746, a conference was held at Breda, under the 
auspices of Argenson, in the hope of bringing this 
long war to a close, but it met with the ill success of 
all his diplomatic enterprises. So meek was the atti- 
tude of France, that it encouraged the representatives 
of Spain and HoUand to make such extravagant 
demands that even the French ministers would not 
discuss them ; the meeting was regarded by diplomats 
as little more than a farce, and soon came to an end.^ 

^ How vague and uncertain were the reports as to affairs in 
India may be seen in the memoirs of Luynes, who was well 
informed, and who noted down daily the news received at the 

2 Argenson to Vaureal, Cor. d'Esp., 1745. 

^ These negotiations, which were of no practical importance, 
can be followed in the Cor. de Breda at the Aff. Etr. Argenson 
gives his account in his Memoires, t. iv. 331-365. 


The failure of the conference was accompanied by 
the disgrace of the minister who had organized it. 
Argenson had made no more mistakes than most of 
the ministers of Louis XV., but he hatl no social 
graces, no adroitness in intrigue, no skill in amusing 
the king or gaining the confidence of the mistress ; 
the virtues of his character were as disastrous to his 
favor as the infirmities of his judgment ; he had no 
friends at court to protect him from the results of 
his failures, and no diplomatic successes as the fruits 
of an eccentric policy, and in January, 1747, he was 
dismissed from office.^ His place was taken by 
Puisieulx, a man who was inferior to his predecessor 
in intelligence, and not superior to him in judgment. 

The negotiations which had proved abortive at 
Breda were again undertaken, and this time with 
better result. An accident of the campaign furnished 
an opportunity for renewing the endeavors for peace. 
At the battle of Lawfeldt the English General Ligo- 
nier was taken prisoner. He was French by birth, 
and was one of the many Huguenots who used their 
talents against the country which had driven them 
from its boundaries. Ligonier spoke French as his 
mother tongue, he wa% a distinguished soldier, an 
agreeable companion, and he received every courtesy 
from his captors. He supped with the king, and in 
the freedom of social intercourse there was an op- 
portunity for suggestions which could not have been 
made in formal dispatches. " Is it not better to 

^ A long and bitter attack by the Duke of Noailles helped to 
destroy any confidence that the king had in Argenson, but the 
unfortunate minister had a still more dangerous enemy in Mar- 
shal Saxe, who felt that Argenson's cloudy philanthropy had 
tied his hands and checked his success in the Low Countries. 


think seriously about peace," said Louis, " than to be 
killing so many brave men?" " Why do not you 
English make peace ? " the French suggested ; " we 
desire no conquests, no new possessions ; let every- 
thing captured on either side be restored ; give the 
Spanish infante a reasonable settlement and we will 
be content." ^ 

These suggestions were transmitted by Ligonier to 
the Duke of Cumberland, and found in him a willing 
listener. The duke had abandoned the hope of gain- 
ing victories from Maurice de Saxe ; as there seemed 
little prospect of glory by carrying on war, he was 
now ready to secure the credit of negotiating an hon- 
orable peace.^ Cumberland was the favorite son of 
George II., and his desires had a strong influence in 
moderating the warlike zeal of his bellicose father, 
while the English ministers, for the most part, were 
glad to see any way of ending a long and an unsuc- 
cessful war. " We might have had last year a better 
peace than we shall be able to obtain this," wrote the 
English prime minister, " and this a better than we 
shall get the next." ^ " I do not at present see the 
resources for carrying on the war or mending our con- 
dition," said the chancellor, " and it wiU grow worse 
and worse." 

Saxe and Cumberland were not able to follow the 
example of Boufflers and Portland haK a century 
before, and arrange terms of peace between their 

^ The letters in which Saxe gave formal expression to some 
of these views are published in Geheimnisse des Sdchsischen Cabi- 
nets, i. 232-234. 

^ " We must do the best we can to get out of the scrape before 
we are too far gone," he wrote Sandwich in April, 1748. 

* Pelham to Walpole, August 14, 1747, cited by Coxe. 


countries without diplomatic formalities, but as a 
result of these endeavors a congress was agreed on 
to which all the combatants were bidden. Aix-la- 
Chapelle was selected as the place of its meeting, and 
thither, in the early part of 1748, the representatives 
of the great powers of Europe began to make their 
way. France sent the Count of St. Severin, an Ital- 
ian by birth, and in the acuteness of his mind, as 
well as in his freedom from scruple, a worthy dis- 
ciple of the Macchiavelian school.^ Lord Sandwich 
appeared for England, and the empress queen sent 
Count Kaunitz, the most acute and the most able of 
Austrian statesmen. 

Yet though so many famous diplomats were hasten- 
ing to Aix-la-Chapelle, few believed that peace would 
be made. Maria Theresa saw little prospect of ob- 
taining conditions that would be satisfactory to her 
pride, the English were loath to offend their colonists 
by surrendering Louisburg, and Spain was sure to be 
discontented, no matter what advantages she might 

The hopes of the allies were encouraged also by 
the entry of a new actor on the scene, and it seemed 
possible that the unbroken success of the French 
armies under Marshal Saxe might be checked by 
opponents who would appear for the first time on the 
battlefields of western Europe.^ After years of diplo- 
matic efforts and of changing counsels, the Empress 
Elizabeth at last consented to furnish thirty thousand 

1 "C'est une quintessence de finesses italiennes francis^es." . 
Kaunitz to Ulfeld, June 31, 1748. 

2 Eighteen thousand Russians were sent to assist Austria in 
1735, but active hostilities had ceased before their arrival at the 


Russian soldiers, for whom she was to be liberally 
paid by the maritime powers. Such bargains were 
often made with the petty German princes, who were 
always ready to sell their subjects to any purchaser, 
but it was a new thing for the remote and almost un- 
known empire of Russia to take part in the quarrels 
of western states. In February, 1748, the Russians 
crossed the Polish frontier and started on their long 
march of one thousand miles from the Vistula to the 
fields of Flanders. The countries through which they 
had to pass viewed with apprehension the sojourn of 
a great body of men who were regarded as barbarians, 
and who were in truth not far removed from barba- 
rism, and while their allies hoped for important results 
from these Russian reinforcements, yet all watched 
with curiosity, not unmingled with uneasiness, the con- 
duct and military qualities of a race which was mak- 
ing its entry into the politics and warfare of civilized 

There was no opportunity to gratify this curiosity. 
The Russian hordes advanced with great deliberation, 
and Marshal Saxe was not the man to wait for them. 
In April, 1748, he marched rapidly on Maestricht, 
and, before any steps could be taken to hinder him, 
the town was invested, and its surrender, with the ten 
thousand men forming its garrison, was only a ques- 
tion of time. This news came like a thunderbolt upon 
the negotiators at Aix-la-Chapelle. Maestricht was 
one of the most important of the frontier fortresses ; 
its capture would leave a large part of Holland open 
to invasion, and with little means of checking the 
enemy except the dolorous resort of cutting the dykes 
and turning the land into sea ; before the usual wran- 
gles over diplomatic formalities could be adjusted, 


Maurice could conquer the Seven Provinces. Peace 
will be made at Maestricht, he had said, and so it 
proved ; victory at Maestricht brought peace at Aix. 
The sound of the cannon could easily be heard at 
Aix-la-Chapelle. " I do not know," wrote Maurice, 
" whether this agreeable music will incline the lis- 
teners to thoughts of peace, or will excite their war- 
like ardor." ^ Its influence proved pacific. 

Yet another embarrassment inclined the allies to 
agree on terms. England and Holland had promised 
to defray the expenses of the Russian contingent, but 
the Dutch could no longer support war as in the 
days of Louis XIV. ; they suddenly confessed that 
their resources were exhausted, and applied to the 
English for the loan of a million pounds. Pelham 
was already appalled at the cost of the war, and now 
the additional expense of thirty thousand men was 
to be thrown on England alone. " We fight all and 
we pay all," he said, " but we are beaten and we shall 
be broke." 

The position taken by the allies became more con- 
ciliatory, and the course of the negotiations indicated 
the great political change that was to be consummated 
a few years later. Instead of Austria and the mari- 
time powers acting together at Aix-la-Chapelle in 
presenting their claims against France, the common 
enemy, the terms asked by the English and Dutch 
were often those which were most disagreeable to 
Maria Theresa. As a natural result, on one night 
St. Severin would be listening to offers from Sand- 
wich, and on the next he would be engaged in secret 
conferences with Kaunitz ; each party sought to in- 
duce the representative of France to agree on a pro- 
1 Saxe to St. Severin, April 21, 1748, Aff. Etr. 


gramme agreeable to itself, and was willing to make 
liberal concessions at the expense of its allies. When 
such was the diplomatic position, when all of Austrian 
Flanders was held by the French, when the victorious 
army of Maurice de Saxe was before Maestricht, and 
Holland was defenseless, the French statesmen of a 
former day would have utilized the situation to obtain 
important advantages for their country. This was 
not done, and the blame rests, not on St. Severin, who 
was a sagacious, if not always a scrupulous diplomat, 
but on those whose instructions he was bound to obey. 
It was a famous declaration of Louis XV. that he 
did not make peace as a merchant, and never did king 
utter a more foolish saying. To scorn material ad- 
vantages for his own country may have seemed to 
courtiers at Versailles an exhibition of aristocratic 
elevation of feeling, but such a policy did not excite 
the admiration of the greatest general or the greatest 
sovereign in Europe. 

Saxe felt a natural irritation at seeing the results 
of his four years of victory frittered away. "It is 
worth while," he wrote of the proposition to restore 
Flanders without compensation, " to be at some trouble 
to acquire a province like this, which furnishes a 
magnificent port, millions of inhabitants, and an im- 
pregnable barrier. Such are my views. I don't un- 
derstand your infernal politics, but I know that the 
king of Prussia took Silesia and kept it, and I wish 
we might imitate him." ^ 

Frederick had no personal interest in what France 

could gain, but, as a political artist, he seems to have 

felt genuine regret that men who had such manifest 

advantages on their side should not know how to use 

^ Maurice to Maurepas, Lettres de Saxe, v. 269. 


them. " The men who govern France," he wrote, 
" are idiots and ignoramuses not to know better how 
to profit by the situation." The opinion of Frederick 
on this, as on many occasions, has become the verdict 
of history. 

It had, however, been decided at Versailles that 
France should ask for no advantages of any nature, 
political or commercial, and that the war should be car- 
ried on solely for the benefit of others. St. Severin 
asked only that Louisburg should be returned in ex- 
change for Madras, and said that France would sur- 
render the Low Countries in return for an establish- 
ment in Italy for Louis XY.'s son-in-law, the infante 
Philip of Spain. Terms so reasonable excited little 
demur from Austria or England, but on other ques- 
tions the two nations held very different views. It was 
under English pressure that Maria Theresa had signed 
the treaty of Worms, by which she granted Pavia 
and territories along the Po to the king of Sardinia, 
and under the same influence she had consented to 
cede Silesia to Prussia. But Sardinia, said the queen, 
and with some degree of justice, had not fulfilled her 
agreements, the Bourbons had not been driven out of 
Italy, Naples had not been obtained for Austria ; as 
the work was not done, the wages were not earned, 
and the provinces to which Charles Emmanuel had 
no just right could properly be used to satisfy the 
demands of the Spanish infante. Still more bitterly 
did the empress queen protest against any ratification 
of Frederick's possession of Silesia. " Although the 
queen of Hungary," so ran the secret articles pre- 
pared by Austria, " was far removed from any thought 
of violating the treaty of Dresden if the king of 
Prussia conformed strictly to it," yet it was insisted 


that no guarantee of Silesia should be given at Aix- 

The French were in position to accede to these 
views. The treaty of Worms formed a combination 
hostile to them, the treaty of Dresden was made by 
Frederick when he deserted their alliance ; they could 
properly say that they had no voice in either of them, 
and it did not concern France whether their terms 
were observed or violated. 

But the desires of Maria Theresa went further than 
this, and she contemplated the possibility of a new com- 
bination among the European powers. The alliance of 
France and Austria in 1756 has been regarded as a 
sudden caprice, a bizarre political change, the whim 
of a mistress, flattered by a sovereign. Certainly the 
alliance with Austria would not have been made if 
Mme. de Pompadour had disapproved of it, but it was 
no sudden change ; such an alliance had been pro- 
posed and considered, half favored and half disap- 
proved, for ten years before it was at last consummated ; 
not only had politicians suggested it, but the course 
of events, political sympathies and political interests, 
from the time that Silesia was ceded to Frederick, 
' had all tended to a new political combination, in which 
Prussia and England should be on the one side and 
France and Austria on the other. 

From the first Frederick had seen that England 
would be a more valuable ally for him than France ; 

1 The articles which Count Loos was authorized to submit are 
given in Vitzthum's Geheimnisse des Sdchsischen Cabinets. The 
second secret article of the proposed treaty stated that the 
queen of Hungary had no thoughts of violating the treaty of 
Dresden, " en cas que s. m. le roi de Prusse s'y tienne exacte- 


he hated George II., but he despised Louis XV., and 
as allies he preferred the Eoglish to the French ; the 
English could furnish him with money, they had no 
ambition for territorial aggrandizement on the Con- 
tinent, they professed the same religious faith as his 
people, a Protestant alliance would be popular in 
England and would be faithfully observed. It was 
only after the failure of his negotiations with Eng- 
land in 1741, that Frederick threw himself into the 
arms of France. Notwithstanding the first outcry at 
his unscrupulous seizure of Silesia, English opinion 
soon became favorable to him, and he owed it to their 
intercession that Maria Theresa acceded to the trea- 
ties of Breslau and Dresden. 

While Frederick appreciated the benefits he re- 
ceived from his nominal enemies, Maria Theresa 
became constantly more irritated at the concessions 
which she was forced to make by her nominal allies, 
and, weary of the English, she now sought the friend- 
ship of France.^ These tendencies of political drift 
became apparent during the war of the Austrian 
Succession. Several times had Maria Theresa en- 
deavored to disarm the hostility of France, to induce 
the French, if they would not join her against Fred- 
erick, at least to allow Austria and Prussia to fight 
out their battles unaided. Such plans had been hinted 
at in the negotiations in 1745, and were repelled by 
Argenson ; they now again found utterance. The posi- 
tion taken by her English aUies at Aix-la-ChapeUe in- 
creased the discontent of the empress queen. " The 
English system appears clearly," she wrote ; " it con- 
sists in increasing the greatness of Prussia and Sar- 

^ " Meine Feinde werden mir bessere Bedingiuigen einraumen 
als meine Freunde," she said. 


dinia at our expense." And because she believed 
her interests were sacrificed by her allies, she strove 
the more to establish friendly relations with France. 
" The French court as well as ourselves," she wrote 
again, " should draw lessons from the past. If thus 
far France has shown herself hostile to the interests 
of our House, this feeling has imposed incalculable 
sacrifices on the two nations, and others have got 
the profit. . . . France must see that England and 
Prussia are working to weaken the great Catholic 
powers, and that our common interests require meas- 
ures to defeat their projects." ^ 

Politicians like Kaunitz and Maria Theresa could 
grasp the possibility of new combinations and were 
ready to form them, but Louis XV. and his advisers 
had the timidity and the respect for established tradi- 
tions which are found in weak minds ; they received 
these suggestions with apprehension, not wishing 
wholly to reject them, not daring wholly to accept 
them. Unlike Argenson, Puisieulx was not a wor- 
shiper at the shrine of Frederick, but if he did not 
love the king he greatly feared him, and he was in 
constant apprehension during the negotiations at Aix 
of doing something that would give offense to Prussia. ^ 
He decided, therefore, to guarantee the possession of 
Silesia, not because he was interested in Frederick's 
acquisitions, but because he knew the king would be 
very angry and very abusive if this was not done. 

While Kaunitz was trying to win the French to 
an alliance with Austria, Lord Sandwich was also 

^ Maria Theresa to Kaunitz, April, 1748. 

^ "Quoique nous passions sur cet article," he wrote in his 
distress, "le roi des Prusses en aura connaissance et nous en 
saura toujours mauvais gr^ ; c'est ce qu'il faudrait ^viter." 


engaged in conferences with the French representa- 
tive, but the terms demanded by the English were 
very different from those proposed by the Austrians. 
Maria Theresa deemed it of the utmost importance 
that the treaties of Dresden and Worms should be 
passed by in silence, but the English insisted upon 
a solemn ratification of Frederick's title to Silesia 
and of the grants made to Charles Emmanuel. St. 
Severin at last decided to accept the propositions of 
the maritime powers, and on the 30th of April, 1748, 
articles were signed between England, France, and 
Holland, which formed the basis of the treaty of 
Aix-larChapelle. By them France agreed to surren- 
der Madras and all her conquests in the Low Coun- 
tries, in return for which Louisburg was given up by 
the English. This was the only advantage the French 
obtained by the treaty. To the Infante Don Philip, 
the son of Philip V. and Elizabeth Farnese, and the 
son-in-law of Louis XV., the duchies of Parma, Pia- 
cenza, and Guastella were ceded ; the king of Sardinia 
kept what was secured to him by the treaty of Worms, 
with the exception of Piacenza ; Frederick was guar- 
anteed the possession of Silesia ; the monopoly of the 
slave trade with the Spanish colonies, which had been 
interrupted by the war, was secured to the English 
for the unexpired term. Another article was possibly 
not of great importance, but was so humiliating that 
it is amazing the French should have submitted to it. 
By the treaty of Utrecht, made at the darkest period 
of the fortunes of France, Louis XIV., to obtain 
peace from England, had consented to dismantle 
Dunkirk, so that city could no longer serve as a place 
of refuge for privateers or ships of war. It is not 
often that a nation submits the fortification of its 


cities to the dictation of a foreign power : such terms 
might be imposed by Russia on Poland, and the con- 
dition of France in 1711 could explain so humiliating 
an agreement; but in 1748 France was victorious, 
she held Flanders in her grasp and Holland at her 
mercy; yet the same condition was submitted to: 
Dunkirk was again to be dismantled towards the sea, 
as a special favor the French were permitted to for- 
tify it on the land side ; the city could offer no resist- 
ance to a naval power, but was allowed to defend it- 
self against an enemy on land. As Pelham wrote his 
brother, the preliminaries were so advantageous to 
England it was hard to believe the French would 
agree to them.^ 

If the French had wished to profit by their advan- 
tages, said Lord Chesterfield, who was an acute 
observer, the English would have been lost, and he 
sought in vain to account for their moderation.^ 

The articles thus agreed upon were presented to the 
other powers, but with the intimation that no modifica- 
tions would be allowed, and there was nothing to do but 
to accept them. Not unnaturally they excited a storm 
of disapproval from those for whom peace had been 
made without their being consulted. The Spanish 
were dissatisfied with the provision made for Don 
Philip, and incensed at the commercial privileges 
granted the English; the king of Sardinia was dis- 
contented because Piacenza was given to Spain, but 
most of all Maria Theresa denounced the treaty, the 

1 Pelham to Newcastle, October 4, 1748. 

2 " The French were under no necessity to lay down their arms, 
while the allies were in the greatest distress, and in no condition 
to resist their victorious progress." Observations^ etc., H. Wal- 
pole, the former ambassador to France. 


conduct of her allies in betraying her, the conduct of 
the French in agreeing on terms with England instead 
of with Austria. 

However loudly the representatives of the other 
powers might complain, there was nothing to do but 
accept the situation. The nations aggrieved had no 
common interest, and no one of them alone was in 
condition to continue the war. Months were spent in 
diplomatic wrangles, but no substantial change was 
made in the conditions agreed upon. One after 
another the different parties yielded to the inevitable : 
on the 18th of October, 1748, the formal treaty of 
Aix-la-Chapelle was signed by the representatives of 
France and the maritime powers; two days later it 
was signed by the Spanish ambassador, and in No- 
vember both Austria and Sardinia joined in an instru- 
ment, to the terms of which they had practically con- 
sented some time before.^ 

A war of seven years had ended, and of those who 
took part in it no one had gained except Prussia and 
Sardinia ; the pride of Elizabeth Farnese was grati- 
fied to have her son become a sovereign, though his 
possessions were smaller than she had hoped ; Holland 
escaped the ruin with which she was threatened ; the 
English had the satisfaction of seeing their hereditary 

^ From the French side, the negotiations of Aix-la-Chapelle 
can best be followed in Cor. de Breda and d^ Aix-la-Chapelle, 
Aff. Etr. In Arneth's Maria Theresia, the congress is reviewed 
from the Austrian standpoint. Frederick's views are found in 
Pol. Cor., t. vi. Vitzthum's Geheimnisse des Sdchischen Cabinets 
contains some documents not before published. Also Beers's 
Friede von Aachen. The Due de Broglie's Paix d^ Aix-la-Chapelle 
contains a full and accurate account of the congress. Many of 
Pelham's letters are found in Coxe's Pelham Administration. 
The published correspondence of Chesterfield is also of interest. 


enemy abandon her conquests, and allow her navy to 
sink into a condition which insured England's success 
in future contests ; France gained nothing in strength 
or glory by the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. " As stupid 
as the peace " became a familiar saying at Paris, and 
expressed the judgment of the French people. 

An incident of no great importance increased the 
apparent humiliation of this treaty in the eyes of the 
French. One of the conditions of the treaty of Utrecht 
had been renewed, and the French bound themselves 
to expel from their boundaries any member of the 
Pretender's family. Charles Edward was then in 
Paris, fresh from his romantic achievements in Scot- 
land ; dissipation had not yet made him contemptible, 
and a young prince, brave, handsome, and unfortunate, 
excited the admiration of the people and was sure of 
their sympathy. The order was given him to leave 
France, but Charles Edward believed that the govern- 
ment would not enforce an unpopular condition, and 
he refused to obey. The French ministers were un- 
willing to be trifled with, and the prince was arrested 
as he was entering the opera ; he struggled to escape, 
and was put forcibly in a carriage, his arms were tied, 
— it was said indeed they were bound with a silken 
cord, — and he was thus conveyed to Vincennes. There 
he remained in close confinement until, weary of prison 
life, he consented to leave the country.^ Good faith 
required this action by the ministry, but the expul- 
sion of an unfortunate prince at the dictation of a 
foreign power did not appeal to the popular imagina- 
tion nor excite popular pride. During the scuffle, a 
servant of the Princess of Talmont, the mistress of 

^ See Journal de Barbier for 1748, and Mem. (VArgenson, Mem. 
de Luynes. 


Charles Edward, had been taken into custody, and 
with pleasing impertinence she wrote to one of the 
ministers : " The arrest of the prince gives the final 
lustre to the king's laurels, but as the imprisonment 
of my lackey will add nothing to them, be good 
enough to order his release." 

As the only reward for French sacrifices and victo- 
ries, the son of an infirm descendant of Louis XIV. 
became Duke of Parma, and took his place among the 
petty Italian sovereigns. For half a century the 
dukes of Parma were counted among Bourbon princes, 
but it would be impossible to state any advantage, po- 
litical or commercial, which France derived from their 
rule ; the son-in-law of Louis XV. was a petty sover- 
eign holding his court at Parma, instead of a Spanish 
prince residing at Madrid ; to the French nation this 
was of no more importance than the conquests in Asia 
of Nadir Shah. In 1796, the soldiers of the French 
republic captured Parma, its duke was reduced to the 
condition of a nominal sovereign, and this was the 
end of the establishment of a Bourbon prince, to obtain 
which France had sacrificed thousands of lives and 
wasted millions of money. 

Frederick the Great has given his opinion as to the 
condition in which the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle left 
the combatants. " This pacification," he wrote, " re- 
sembled rather a truce, in which all the parties profited 
by a moment of repose to seek new alliances, in order 
to be in better condition again to take up arms." 

There were many indications by which one coidd 
foresee the nature of those new combinations. We 
have already spoken of the rancor of Maria Theresa 
towards England and her repeated suggestions of a 
close union with France. The desires of her gi-eat 


rival were equally manifest. During the war Freder- 
ick had often shown a wish to ally himself more closely 
with England, and the reasons for this were apparent 
even to his enemies. " His natural interest," wrote 
the Saxon chief minister in 1746, "is to attach himself 
to the maritime powers." ^ The same belief was held 
at Vienna, and it was held still more firmly by Fred- 
erick himself. 2 "Wait till peace is made," he said, 
" and I have no longer any precautions to take with 
France ; then I shall be ready to join in a firm and 
cordial alliance with the maritime powers." " The 
system of Europe is changed," wrote that far-sighted 
statesman eight years before the outbreak of the next 
great war. " I shall soon be found on good footing 
with Great Britain, while there is great lack of har- 
mony and discontent between the queen of Hungary 
and England." ^ Such were the results of the war of 
the Austrian Succession. 

^ Count Briihl to Maurice de Saxe, April 4, 1746, published 
in Geheimnisse des Sdchischen Cabinets. 

2 See letters of Tercier to Puisieulx, 1748, Cor. d^Aix-la- 

8 Pol. Cor., vi. 122, 126, 130, 146. 



While great armies marched and fought in Ger- 
many and the Low Countries with small results, the 
fate of a country seven times as large as France, and 
containing a population exceeding that of all western 
Europe, was decided by the obscure combats of a few 
hundred men. In that contest the French were 
finally worsted, and like most of the misfortunes that 
befell them in the eighteenth century, their defeat was 
due to the inefficiency of their government ; the list- 
less apathy of Louis XV. cost France an empire in 
the Indies. 

Her failure to hold her place in India and America 
has been charged to the French character ; the French, 
it is said, were ill adapted to be colonists, they could 
not deal with strange peoples ; wedded to the gayety 
of Parisian life or the tranquillity of provincial life, 
they were not fitted for painful existence among half 
civilized tribes, in distant lands and under strange 
skies. The study of French colonization in the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth centuries shows this theory to 
be the reverse of the truth. No nation equaled the 
French in the skill with which they ingratiated them- 
selves with the native populations ; they were soon on 
the best of terms with chiefs of the Five Nations, and 
with subahdars and nawabs of the Carnatic; they 
excited admiration and did not arouse prejudices ; 
in their contests with the English, the French, so long 


as they had any prospect of success, usually had the 
natives for their allies. Not only did they deal adroitly 
with peoples of a lower grade of civilization, but it 
was by French pioneers that plans were developed for 
bringing under European control the vast interior of 
North America and the swarming populations of south- 
ern India. While La Salle and Tonty pushed the ex- 
ploration and the colonization of the Mississippi valley, 
Dupleix conceived the policy by which Europeans 
could rule at Delhi and Aurungabad. These great 
schemes were carried into effect by the English, but 
this was not the fault of the Frenchmen who repre- 
sented their country in India and America. It was 
at Versailles that Canada and Hindustan were lost to 
France, and not by the waters of the St. Lawrence or 
the shores of the Indian Ocean. 

No European government took a more active in- 
terest in the development of colonial empire than 
France in the seventeenth century. " There is no 
country so well situated as France," wrote Richelieu, 
" none so well provided with all that is required to 
make her mistress of the seas." ^ The cardinal gave 
much attention to strengthening the navy and to or- 
ganizing commercial companies, and, in 1642, a char- 
ter was granted to the Company of the Indies. Little, 
however, seems to have been done towards the develop- 
ment of Eastern trade; the troubles of the Fronde 
checked any business activity, and it was not until 
internal order was established under Louis XIV. that 
attention was again given to foreign enterprises. 

Colbert shared Richelieu's desire that France should 
become a colonial power, and he devoted his untiring 
energy to that end. Among his other undertakings 
^ Mem. de Richelieu^ ed. Michaud, xxi. 438. 


was the organization of a new company of the Indies, 
to which a charter was granted in 1664. The success 
of the English and Dutch Companies in the East 
stimulated Colbert's desire that the French should 
share in such gains. The new French Company had 
the full benefit of royal patronage. Its foundation 
was celebrated by Charpentier, who, in weU-rounded 
phrases, told of the glories of the East and of the 
wealth in store for those who traded there. Favored 
by the king, launched with academical orations, and 
receiving the constant attention of the ministry, yet, 
perhaps, as a result of this illustrious protection, the 
company lacked the spirit of individual enterprise ; 
its members never learned to rely on their own ef- 
forts because it was so easy to ask aid from the 

The king subscribed largely to its stock, and strong 
pressure was exercised to induce others to follow his 
example. The courtier who wished to please, the offi- 
cial who hoped for promotion, did well to have his 
name appear among the subscribers for India stock. 
Some of these courtly subscribers proved remiss in 
their payments, but the company was soon equipped 
for its new enterprise, and commenced a trade which 
it was to carry on for more than a century, and which, 
if France had been better governed, might have re- 
sulted in the French Company of the Indies becoming 
the rider of India. It was with no thought of such a 
destiny that it was organized. The desire of Colbert 
was to extend French trade and to increase French 
wealth; any expectation of conquering remote east- 
ern kingdoms, whose population was known to be 
enormous and whose wealth was believed to be bound- 
less, would have been regarded as chimerical. ••' You 


are to have no views in India," said the instructions 
to agents in 1673, " except commerce ; consider only 
what you can buy cheap and sell dear." Yet Colbert 
was not unmindful of the extension of French influ- 
ence which might result, and the charter gave to the 
company the sovereignty of all lands which it should 
conquer, subject only to the authority of the king. 

Notwithstanding the zealous aid which it received, 
it was long before the operations of the Company of 
the Indies were of large importance. The assistance 
of the government was not an unmixed blessing ; in 
return for aid, the company had to submit to super- 
vision and to the evils of bureaucracy. It received a 
monopoly of the trade between India and France. 
Such exclusive rights were granted to similar enter- 
prises in every country ; it was an age of privilege ; 
the spirit of monopoly prevailed in every vocation, 
and belief in the efficacy of free competition was un- 
known. When the barbers of Paris were guarded by 
law against competition, it was not strange that like 
protection should be demanded for a corporation that 
was to carry on trade with a distant part of the world. 
The monopoly of trade which the company demanded 
and obtained proved injurious to its interests; it 
checked immigration and the development of indi- 
vidual enterprises, which would ultimately have in- 
creased its revenues far more than the additional sou 
it could demand for a pound of spice or a yard of cot- 
ton because it met with no competitors in the market. 

In 1674, Pondicherri was founded, about eighty 
miles south of Madras, and it became the chief port 
of the company in India.^ But its trade was small 

^ It was in 1674 that the governor, Francois Martin, established 
himself at Pondicherri. It was then an unimportant village. 


and its growth was slow. The Dutch held an impor- 
tant place in the commerce with India, and looked with 
jealousy upon any competitors ; in 1693, they laid 
siege to Pondicherri ; the company was unable to de- 
fend the town, and it soon surrendered. In 1697, by 
the treaty of Ryswick, it was restored to its former 
owners, and the company again began its painful 
endeavors to earn dividends for its stockholders by 
trading with the Indies. 

The war of the Spanish Succession completed the 
ruin of the enterprise. In the financial distress that 
prevailed at home there was little market for eastern 
luxuries ; the ships which ventured on the long jour- 
ney from France to India ran great risk of capture by 
English and Dutch cruisers ; the company continued 
to drag on a sickly existence which neither made its 
stockholders richer nor France greater. In 1719, the 
corporation founded by Colbert was dissolved, and its 
property and privileges were turned over to the Mis- 
sissippi Company, then at the height of its power and 
apparent prosperity. This change was of large im- 
portance ; the Indian trade had long been in the hands 
of an infirm corporation, burdened with debt, con- 
ducted without vigor,- and administered without abil- 
ity ; the new Company of the Indies had the wealth 
of France at its command, and the energy of Law to 
develop its interests and its commerce. 

The great increase of trade which might have re- 
sulted was checked by the bankruptcy of the Mis- 
sissippi Company and the failure of Law's system, but 
the franchises of the former Company of the Indies 
were spared ; it contrived to carry on business, and it 
preserved, as one of the fruits of Law's management, 
a monopoly of the sale of tobacco, which proved its 


surest source of income. Its trade with the East 
increased and assumed considerable proportions. In 
1725, the sales of eastern commodities in France 
amounted to about eight million livres, and to ten 
million in 1750. The sale of goods imported from 
China amounted to two million livres yearly, and in- 
creased under Dupleix to three million. The capital 
of the company exceeded one hundred and thirty-five 
million livres, and during all this period moderate divi- 
dends were paid upon the stock.^ 

Such was the condition of the French Company of 
the Indies, when a man of bold and original genius 
entered its service and changed its fortunes. Joseph 
Francois Dupleix was born in 1697, and was the son 
of a rich farmer-general. When seventeen years old 
he embarked on a St. Malo trading-ship ; he made 
several voyages to America and India, and acquired a 
taste for adventures in strange lands. In 1720, his 
father obtained for him a position in the employ of 
the East India Company. The father, though rich, was 
penurious ; he provided his son with a scanty outfit 
for such a journey, and directed that no money should 
be wasted in buying fine linen. The future governor- 
general of India set sail with a beggarly assortment 
of stockings and shirts, but he took with him a bass 
viol, an instrument on which he loved to perform, and 
from which he sought consolation during all the vicis- 
situdes that fortune had in store for him. 

Thus equipped he embarked for Pondicherri, and 
commenced his career in the Indies. After ten years 
of assiduous service he was promoted to be director 
of Chandamagar, a trading-post of the company in 

^ These figures are given in D'Aubigny, Choiseul et la France 
d'outre mer, and in the appendices of the Memoire pour Dupleix. 


Bengal, and there he had an opportunity to exhibit 
his talents as an administrator. Chandarnagar was 
a sleepy and unimportant place ; three times a year 
a ship arrived from Europe, and occasionally some 
caravan from the interior awakened it into temporary 
animation. " What I am expected to do," wrote Du- 
pleix, " is to reestablish a colony which lacks every- 
^ thing, and from which indolence and poverty have 
banished commerce." But however unpromising the 
field, the new director was equal to the task. Like 
other agents of the company, Dupleix had traded ac- 
tively on his own account, and his good judgment had 
rendered these ventures largely profitable. He now 
devoted to the development of Chandarnagar his for- 
tune and his genius. The boats of the company en- 
gaged only in voyages between France and India ; but 
Dupleix saw a large field in the trade that could be 
carried on between India and the rest of Asia. Soon 
seventy-two vessels were employed in carrying and 
exchanging wares from China to the Arabian Gulf, 
while, in the interior, commercial relations were ex- 
tended as far as Thibet. This increase in commerce 
made Chandarnagar one of the most important Euro- 
pean posts in the East. In 1740, it had six thousand 
houses and a population of thirty thousand people ; 
land sold at high prices, two thousand artisans were 
employed in making linen cloths, there were numerous 
churches, mosques, and pagodas for the spiritual needs 
of the motley population. In this rapid development 
of business, Dupleix gained the favor of his superiors 
by the only services they could appreciate, a steady 
increase in the revenues of the company. In 1740, 
they manifested their approval by appointing him 
governor-general in India. 


This transferred him to Pondicherri, and the citi- 
zens of Chandarnagar were in despair ; the prosperity 
which had come so rapidly they knew was the work 
of Dupleix, and if he were removed, they feared a re- 
turn to the commercial stagnation that had so long 
been their lot. 

It was only by promising to remain with them for 
a few months longer that Dupleix could in any degree 
console their grief, and during that time he married a 
woman who proved of singular service in the projects 
he was soon to undertake. His wife belonged to a 
family of Portuguese Creoles ; she was of great beauty, 
and of equal intelligence and ambition. Born in 
India, she was familiar with the languages and even 
the dialects of the country ; she could communicate 
with rajahs and nawabs in their own tongue, and in 
the style and with the metaphors which were dear to 
the eastern heart. While Dupleix was governor- 
general, his wife might have been regarded as his min- 
ister for foreign affairs, and he could have found no 
one better fitted for the place. Jan Begum, the Prin- 
cess Jeanne, became as well known to the courts of 
Delhi and Hyderabad as Dupleix himself. 

In January, 1742, the new governor-general left his 
disconsolate Chandarnagarians, and went to Pondi- 
cherri, the capital of French India, there to assume the 
duties of his office.^ Most of his predecessors had been 
content if they could report that the commerce of the 
company showed no decline, but the years Dupleix 
had spent in the East convinced him that there was 
an opportunity for France of infinitely more impor- 
tance than shipping a few more pounds of spice to 
Paris, or selling a few more knives and bales of cloth 
' Journal of Rangappoulle, 15. 

DUPLE IX. 387 

to the inhabitants of the Carnatic.^ In a high degree 
Dupleix possessed the rarest quality of genius, the 
faculty of conceiving what is new to human experi- 
ence, of devising schemes of polity and of government 
for which history can afford no precedent. To his 
contemporaries the empire of the Great Mogul seemed 
a stupendous power ; Dupleix first realized that it was 
possible for a handful of Europeans to control its 
destinies. While others talked with bated breath of 
the rulers of Delhi and Arcot and Moorshedabad, of 
the thousands of men who formed their armies, of the 
millions of money which filled their treasuries, he saw 
that a few himdred European soldiers, with a fit man 
to lead them, could scatter those great armies and 
administer those well-filled treasuries. Not only did 
the distracted condition of the Indian empire and the 
imbecility of its rulers render possible the ascendency 
of a race of higher intelligence and higher civilization, 
but no western nation was better prepared than France 
to extend its authority over those vast regions. The 
influence of Portugal and Holland in the East had 
waned with the decline of their power in Europe, and 
they were in no condition to increase it. The English 
East India Company had been longer in the field, 
and, as a commercial enterprise, had been more suc- 
cessful than its French rival, but the directors in Lon- 
don, like those in Paris, were dreaming of dividends 
and not of conquests ; they had as yet no thought of 
replacing trading-posts by subject principalities. The 
possessions of the French in India were not inferior 
in importance or in the advantages of their situation 
to those then held by the English. Above all, in 

^ It is just to say that Dupleix's immediate predecessor, Del- 
mas, had considerably increased French influence in the Carnatic. 


Dupleix himself, the French had a man who in his 
knowledge of eastern character, in his ability to con- 
trol eastern potentates, and in his conception of a 
wise eastern policy, was equaled by no other European. 
The first enterprise which he undertook was to 
convert Pondicherri into a well-fortified town, that 
should no longer be defenseless if some neighboring 
prince or the British authorities saw fit to attack it. 
Work had hardly begun when the news reached India 
that the war of the Austrian Succession had com- 
menced. The contest which was rapidly involving all 
Europe would probably extend to the distant shores 
of India, and if the French were to maintain their 
position in the East, they needed soldiers by the banks 
of the Ganges as well as by the Rhine or the Danube. 
But the possibility of a conflict, in which their posts 
might be destroyed and their ships be burned, terri- 
fied the directors of the India Company out of their 
wits ; they wrote Dupleix to suspend all work on the 
fortifications, and to reduce his expenses by at least 
one half.^ On this occasion, as on many other occa- 
sions, the governor-general declined to adopt the nar- 
row views of his employers, and supplied from his own 
pocket the money which the company was unable to 
furnish. He now advanced half a million livres and 
completed the fortifications of the town. The direc- 
tors were not disturbed by this disobedience to their 
orders ; the fact that they were not asked to raise 
money for the work reconciled them to its accomplish- 
ment, and in due time they wrote that the prompt 
completion of the fortifications of Pondicherri had 
given them much pleasure.^ So fluctuating were the 

1 Letter of September 18, 1743. 

2 Letter of November 30, 1746. 


counsels of the company at Paris that the directors 
were as apt to commend disobedience as obedience, 
and their representatives naturally respected their 
orders just so far as they agreed with their own 

In the mean time the war had actually reached 
India, and the governor of Madras threatened to be- 
siege Pondicherri. Dupleix had long before written 
for reinforcements, but none had been sent ; deserted 
by his government, he endeavored to use his influence 
in India to protect the interests of France. With few 
exceptions the native rulers were more friendly to- 
wards the French than towards their English rivals, 
and Dupleix had in a marked degree won their con- 
fidence. He now turned to the nawab of the Car- 
natic and asked him for aid against any attack by the 
English company. " I am myself," wrote Dupleix, 
*' an officer and a vassal of the Great Mogul, and will 
you allow the English to drive me from India ? " The 
nawab responded to this appeal, and forbade any at- 
tack upon Pondicherri ; the English were in no posi- 
tion to defy the native authorities, and did not venture 
to proceed in violation of their orders. 

The situation was still full of peril, and it was 
impossible to impress native rulers with the power 
of France, if her representatives were obliged to ask 
their aid to escape annihilation by the English. " If 
we do not receive succor during the course of this 
year," Dupleix wrote in 1746, " the company may re- 
gard its establishments in India as lost. One year 
will destroy the fruits of a quarter of a century." 

At last the government consented to take some 
steps to preserve its eastern colonies. The number 
of troops sent was small in comparison with the thou- 


sands of lives and the millions of money that were 
wasted to obtain the imperial crown for the Elector of 
Bavaria, but if Dupleix had been allowed to control 
its use, even a small force might have changed the 
future of India. On the 8th of July, 1746, a fleet of 
nine ships and some three thousand men anchored in 
the bay of Pondicherri, after an obstinate conflict 
with the English squadron, which had endeavored to 
repel them. La Bourdonnais, to whom the command 
of the fleet was intrusted, was an officer of energy and 
distinction ; he had gained laurels both on sea and 
land, and he had rendered valuable service as governor 
of the Isle of France. But the government, which 
had at last given some aid to its Indian possessions, 
had done much to neutralize its value. The fleet was 
sent to assist Dupleix, but its movements were to be 
decided by La Bourdonnais ; the instructions were 
conflicting and ambiguous; they had been prepared 
years before, and apparently forbade the capture of 
any establishment of the English, with the purpose of 
adding it to the French possessions.^ 

The relations between Dupleix and La Bourdonnais 
soon became far from cordial, and the fault seems to 
have been with the latter.^ Dupleix and the council 
at Pondicherri were agreed that the great object to be 
attained was the conquest of Madras and the over- 
throw of the British power on the Coromandel coast. 
It was difficult to see why the fleet should have come 
at all, unless it were to assure the ascendency of the 

^ Instructions k M. La Bourdonnais, signed by Orry. 

^ In his correspondence with La Bourdonnais, Dupleix always 
treated him with great courtesy and consideration, and it is hard 
to believe that his conduct was as overbearing as was afterwards 

DUPLE IX. 391 

French, and to secure them against future attacks 
from their English rivals. But whether from pique, 
or from indecision, or from timidity. La Bourdonnais 
delayed and vacillated and did nothing. The last of 
August arrived, and he then began to say that the 
fleet must speedily return in order to escape the dan- 
ger of encountering a monsoon on the Indian coast. 
Not until September, after repeated appeals from 
Dupleix and orders from the council, was the siege of 
Madras at last undertaken. It proved an easy enter- 
prise ; the English had few soldiers, and the town 
was iU fortified; after a siege of six days, Madras 

The capture of the capital of the British possessions 
in India produced a profound impression ; the power 
of the rivals of France on the Coromandel coast 
seemed overthrown ; the way was clear for obtaining 
that ascendency over the native rulers which was the 
object of Dupleix's policy. 

But the fruits of the victory were not what he 
hoped ; Madras, which might have secured the preem- 
inence of France in the Carnatic, was nearly wrested 
from him by the strange conduct of the French admi- 
ral, and was at last surrendered with indifference by 
the authorities at Versailles. The surrender of Madras 
to La Bourdonnais had been unconditional.^ On the 
day that he entered the city he wrote Dupleix, " I 
have the English at my discretion." There were three 

^ The articles of the capitulation show this. They contain a 
provision that if a ransom of the city should be agreed upon, 
then the prisoners of war might serve against the natives, etc. 
There was no article which provided that the city should be 
ransomed. Colonel Malleson, the best English authority, proves 
that the reproach so constantly made against Dupleix of acting 
in bad faith is without foundation. 


courses, he said, that might be pursued : the city- 
could be destroyed, it could be made a French colony, 
or it could be ransomed.^ There had been talk of 
ransoming the city, and this La Bourdonnais now 
recommended. Such a measure was directly contrary 
to the interests of France ; it converted a conquest 
which might assure French ascendency into a mere 
buccaneering expedition, it left the English power 
unimpaired, and the proposed ransom was not even 
sure to be paid, for the governor of Madras had no 
money, and could only give bills running through 
years, the acceptance and payment of which by the 
English authorities might well be doubted. No sooner 
had La Bourdonnais announced his purpose, than 
Dupleix remonstrated with all the vigor of which he 
was capable. " In the name of God, of your children 
and your wife," he wrote, "be persuaded by what I 
say. Spare not an enemy who has no purpose but 
to reduce us to extremity. Profit by this victory for 
the glory of your king and for the interests of the 
nation." ^ 

To such remonstrances was added a formal notice 
from the council of Pondicherri that a capitulation on 
the terms now proposed would not be ratified.^ But 
this opposition only served to strengthen La Bourdon- 
nais in his purpose. He had captured the city, he 
replied, and he had the right to fix the terms on which 
it could be ransomed ; he had given his word to the 
English and must keep it, and he would not be dic- 
tated to by the civilians of Pondicherri.^ A delega- 

i Letter of September 23, 1746. 

2 Dupleix to La Bourdonnais, September 29, 1746. 

8 Letter of September 28, 1746. 

* Letter to Dupleix, October 1, 1746. 


tion was sent from that city to forbid his ransoming 
Madras, and he ordered them to be shut up in jail. 
In violation of all remonstrances, and a month after 
the city had surrendered, he signed a formal capitula- 
tion by which Madras was to be given back to the 
English in the January following, and he received 
bills from its governor for four hundred thousand 
pounds, which was the sum agreed upon for the 
ransom of the town. The French authorities had 
given notice that they would not respect this capitu- 
lation, and they did not. It is hard to see how they 
can be charged with bad faith, when their quarrel 
with La Bourdonnais was a public scandal, and every 
white man in Madras knew that the French com- 
mander was proceeding in violation of their orders.^ 
To a large extent, the conduct of La Bourdonnais 
in disregarding advice to which he should have lis- 
tened, and in violating orders which he should have 
obeyed, was due to caprice and impatience of control ; 
but it cannot be doubted that it was also influenced by 
more corrupt motives. He himself was to receive a 
present of forty thousand pounds, and some or all of 
this sum was paid to him.^ Such gifts were often 
bestowed on successful warriors in India. It is possi- 
ble that if La Bourdonnais had no personal interest, 

^ La Bourdonnais's account of this affair is found in his 

^ The evidence establishing this fact seems beyond question. 
The most convincing, perhaps, is given by Malleson in his valu- 
able work. The French in IndiOy and he regards the charge as 
established. If any faith can be put in the testimony of witnesses 
preserved at Pondicherri, they confirm the authorities cited by 
Colonel Malleson. La Bourdonnais denied that he received any 
money, but his denial cannot be considered as disposing of the 


he would still have thought it wiser to accept a ransom 
than to endeavor to hold Madras ; but until human 
nature changes, the man who has a great pecuniary- 
interest in a certain policy will be specially alert in 
discovering its advantages for the public. 

There was now an open quarrel between the French 
authorities and their officer. " This is the capitula- 
tion I have signed," said La Bourdonnais ; " it is for 
you to carry it out." " It was made without author- 
ity," they replied, " and we will not execute it." 
Eight days after signing the capitulation, La Bour- 
donnais gathered together his ships and sailed away 
from India in a rage, leaving Dupleix to his fate. 
With the exception of two smaU detachments, amount- 
ing in all to about G.\e hundred men, the governor- 
general received no more help from France during 
the war of the Austrian Succession. 

He was soon obliged to make the utmost use of the 
scanty resources at his command. To avert the hos- 
tility of the Nawab of the Carnatic, Dupleix had 
promised that Madras should be turned over to him. 
It was a promise which he felt in no haste to execute, 
and, at all events, he resolved to destroy the fortifica- 
tions of the place before he surrendered it, even to a 
friendly prince. But the nawab wanted Madras for- 
tified and he wanted it at once, and without more 
delay he laid siege to the city. This act of hostility, 
Dupleix thought, relieved him from his promise, and 
he resolved to brave the power of the ruler of the 

Though the great western companies had been trad- 
ing in India for a century and a half, there had been 
few encounters in the field of battle between European 
and Indian soldiers. The companies had been there 


as merchants, they had avoided hostilities with the 
native princes, they had taken no part in the internal 
dissensions of the country. The enormous dijfference 
that existed between disciplined troops and these un- 
wieldy hordes of Asiatic warriors was first shown in 
the battles between the French soldiery of Dupleix 
and the forces of Anwarooden. 

The governor-general had instituted a system by 
which some assistance could be furnished the few 
hundred European soldiers sent out by the company 
and the government. Though undisciplined Indians 
were of little avail against the troops and arms of the 
West, yet these same men, subjected to regular drill, 
taught to use firearms with precision, and to recog- 
nize the authority of trained officers, might possess a 
steadiness and an efficiency in the field unknown to 
the masses of their countrymen, whose only idea of 
a battle was a disorderly charge, usually followed by 
a precipitate flight. Accordingly, Dupleix gave con- 
stant attention to the organization and discipline of 
bodies of native troops. The results repaid his efforts. 
The sepoys, as they were called, soon became soldiers 
not very inferior to their European associates. 

The entire force which Dupleix could command was 
not over one thousand European soldiers and two 
thousand sepoys, and of these only one thousand were 
stationed at Madras, while the nawab at once sent an 
army of ten thousand men to besiege the city. For 
the first time the military systems of India and of the 
West were to meet in serious contest, and the result 
showed the immeasurable superiority of the latter. 
The besiegers endeavored to cut off the water supply 
of Madras, and the French, four hundred strong, with 
two cannon, marched against them. A great body of 


native cavalry advanced, intending to overwhelm their 
opponents by numbers. The French opened fire with 
their cannon, and the rapidity and the accuracy of the 
discharge threw the natives into confusion ; the great 
body of cavalry hesitated and, at the fourth discharge, 
broke in confusion; the victory of the French was 
won without the loss of a man.^ 

A more decisive encounter soon followed. A force 
of some six hundred French and sepoys advanced to 
the relief of Madras, under the command of an engi- 
neer named Paradis. He was a bold and skillful 
officer, and the men had unbounded confidence in 
him. On the 4th of November, 1746, they reached the 
army of the nawab, ten thousand strong, drawn up 
on the bank of a river near St. Thome, and provided 
with a few cannon. The native artillerymen deemed 
themselves expert when they could discharge a cannon 
once in fifteen minutes, and Paradis resolved to attack 
them without delay. " Hell or Paradise ! " shouted 
the men, as they forded the river and charged an army 
twenty times larger than their own. A well-directed 
volley broke the Indian ranks, and they fell back as 
the French advanced. Their pursuers followed, the 
fugitives were huddled together in confusion, and the 
French poured volley after volley into the thick 
masses of men. The victory became a slaughter ; the 
defeated general fled, tearing his garments in his 
distress ; after a few hours nothing remained of his 
army but scattered fugitives. 

The war was ended, the army of the nawab anni- 
hilated, and the French had not lost fifty men. The 
completeness of the victory was, perhaps, a revelation 
to Dupleix himself, and it carried consternation to the 
^ Relation de Dupleix. 


heart of every native ruler in India. French soldiers 
seemed to them as terrible as did those of Cortes to 
the followers of Montezuma. They had regarded the 
French as merchants, trading by their sufferance ; a 
few years before, when these foreigners had sought to 
obtain the good will of some nawab or subahdar, he 
gazed contemptuously on their offerings and did not 
deign to answer their compliments.^ They now dis- 
covered that France was a power whose hostility was 
too dangerous to be encountered, and whose friendship 
could secure success against any rivals. The victory 
of St. Thome prepared the way for the intervention 
of western nations in the internal affairs of India, 
which might have made that country a tributary of 
France and did make it a tributary of Great Britain. 
Victorious over the nawab, Dupleix resolved to at- 
tack Fort St. David, the last post of any importance 
which the English held in the Carnatic. He had now 
an advantage in numbers, he had the prestige of suc- 
cess, and if the native princes took any part, they 
would be sure to enlist in the cause which seemed the 
stronger. But the rules of seniority gave the com- 
mand of the French army besieging Fort St. David 
to a general who was infirm and incompetent. The 
siege was unsuccessful, subsequent attacks were equally 
unfortunate, and suddenly the whole aspect of affairs 
was changed by the arrival of an English fleet. The 
government of George II. did not view its foreign pos- 
sessions with the indifference of Louis XV., and the 
largest fleet which had been seen on the Indian Sea 
now appeared, with instructions to capture Pondi- 
cherri and overthrow French ascendency in the Car- 
natic. In September, 1748, the siege of Pondicherri 
^ Mem. pour Dupleix, 56, and letter of Bussy. 


began, and success seemed assured ; only the indomit- 
able energy of the French governor saved the town. 
Paradis, his ablest officer, was mortally wounded, and 
an explosion of gunpowder killed or disabled a hundred 
of the little garrison and compelled the abandonment 
of part of the defenses. Provisions were scanty, the 
soldiers were worn out, the natives were terrified by 
the dangers of the siege, and thought the end had 
come whenever a shell burst among them. But Du- 
pleix and Jan Begum excited the defenders of the 
town to an heroic resistance ; the English commander 
displayed little military skill, the autumn rains came 
on, the season for the monsoon had arrived, and on 
the 17th of October the siege was raised.^ The na- 
tive rulers, who for a while had hesitated which 
cause to espouse, were again convinced that the French 
were too powerful for their adversaries. No man 
knew better than Dupleix how to utilize the moral 
effects of such a victory; special messengers were 
sent at once to the most powerful Indian princes to 
announce that the English had been unable to capture 
Pondicherri ; the princes replied with costly presents, 
and with the bestowal of sounding titles upon the 
invincible Frenchman. 

While Dupleix was receiving letters of congratula- 
tion from the Nawab of Arcot, the Nizam of Hydera- 
bad, and the Emperor of Delhi, the fatal intelligence 
came that his own government had thrown away his 

^ Relation du siege. Journal of RangappouUe. This journal, 
kept by a native of Pondicherri in Tamoul, contains much that 
is curious. It is bitterly hostile to Mme, Dupleix, but the 
complaints are evidently colored by religious prejudices and 
some personal grievances. For Dupleix the writer expresses 
the admiration which the governor always excited among the 

DUPLE IX. 399 

conquests and done all in its power to check the grow- 
ing ascendency of France in the East Indies. In the 
treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, Louis XV. verified his fa- 
mous assertion that he did not make peace as a mer- 
chant but as a king. Nothing certainly could have 
been more courteous than his conduct towards other 
nations, and nothing could have been more foolish. 
The victories which Maurice de Saxe had won in 
Flanders well entitled the French to demand some 
compensation for seven years of warfare ; they asked 
nothing and they got nothing. It is doubtful if the 
English would have been strenuous for the restora- 
tion of Madras, because the importance of these east- 
ern possessions was then realized by no one except 
Dupleix. But the French ministers at once consented 
to its surrender. They were so eager to abandon any 
advantages that had been won, that Dupleix was or- 
dered to deliver everything captured from the English 
without waiting for them to evacuate any French terri- 
tory they held. There was indeed little for them to 
give up.^ 

The surrender of Madras was a bitter disappoint- 
ment for Dupleix, and it was perhaps a fatal blow to 
the success of his projects. The English were again 
reestablished in the Carnatic ; they were restored to a 
position where they could oppose with equal forces 
any aggrandizement of the French. Moreover the 
surrender of Madras was regarded by the native au- 
thorities as a proof that in Europe the English were 
stronger than the French ; these untutored potentates 
could not comprehend the principles which led Louis 
XV. to regard territorial gains with polite indifPer- 
ence ; they reasoned that if the French gave up Ma- 
^ Letter of October 22, 1748. 


dras, it was because they were not strong enough to 
hold it. Dupleix had to begin his schemes anew for 
the extension of French influence, yet with such saga- 
city did he pursue them that their final failure was 
due not to him but to his government. 

The battle of St. Thome had shown the immeasura- 
ble superiority of disciplined soldiers over the tumult- 
uous hordes that formed the armies of the Indian 
states ; it was natural that these should seek an alli- 
ance with the invincible strangers, and Dupleix was 
ready to respond to any such appeals. He knew that 
by judicious intervention, rather than by conquest, 
French ascendency could be gradually but surely es- 
tablished, and he did not have to wait long before 
putting this policy into execution. 

In 1749, Nizam ool Moolk, subahdar of the Dekkan, 
died, having reached, as was said, the ripe age of one 
hundred and four. By his will, he left his govern- 
ment to a grandson, most unfitly called Mozuffer 
Jung, or the invincible, and he disinherited his son 
Nazir Jung.^ 

In the distracted condition of Indian politics the 
wills of dead princes counted for little ; Nazir seized 
the treasury of the Dekkan, obtained control of the 
army, and Mozuffer found himself a fugitive without 
money or followers. In character he resembled most 
of the Indian princes who were reared in the harem 
and trained to indolence and debauchery : he was 
listless, feeble, and timid, unfit to lead an army or 
govern a state. These qualities did not make him 

1 Nizam left four other sons, but they were not regarded as 
possible successors. Strictly he had no right to say who should 
succeed to his office, for the appointment belonged to the Em- 
peror of Delhi. 


any the less acceptable to the powerful allies who 
now espoused his cause. 

Chunda Sahib, a man of some ability and an en- 
thusiastic admirer of the French, aspired to be Nawab 
of the Carnatic. The Subahdar of the Dekkan was 
nominally overlord of the Carnatic with the right to 
nominate the nawab, and Chunda resolved to give his 
assistance to the despoiled Mozuffer. The title of 
Mozuffer was recognized by the court of Delhi ; nomi- 
nally this was much, and practically it was nothing. 
By the advice of Chunda he now took a step of much 
more importance, for he applied to Dupleix to assist 
him in the enforcement of his rights. The French 
governor-general asked for no better opportunity. 
Mozuffer had a legal title and a pliant character ; he 
was an ideal candidate for ruler of the Dekkan. 

Dupleix did not ask for instructions from his com- 
pany, because he knew the officers would be unfavor- 
able to his project ; he at once declared himself the 
ally of Mozuffer, and sent four hundred French and 
twelve hundred sepoys to support his claims. Mo- 
zuffer had never seen European troops, and when he 
first beheld this paltry force he was plunged in despair. 
He soon discovered that quality counted for more than 
quantity. The French attacked the army of Anwa- 
rooden, Nawab of the Carnatic, and the ally of Na- 
zir Jung. The battle was a repetition of that of St. 
Thome. The forces of the nawab, twenty thousand 
strong, with two hundred elephants and over two hun- 
dred cannon, were encamped upon a mountain at Am- 
boor. Though their position was a strong one, an 
attempt was at once made to storm it. The native 
auxiliaries of Mozuffer soon fell back, but the French 
continued their advance and scaled the parapet which 


defended the camp ; the nawab was killed and his 
army scattered. At the sight of this success, Mozuf- 
fer's distrust was succeeded by a blind confidence. 
" With five hundred of these men," he cried, " I would 
march to Delhi and encounter the Great Mogul him- 
self." He was proclaimed Subahdar of the Dekkan on 
the field of battle, and he visited Pondicherri in great 
pomp to present thanks to Dupleix for his assistance. 

The Dekkan was not yet conquered, and Nazir 
Jung, alarmed by the gravity of the situation, now 
advanced into the Carnatic with an enormous horde 
of followers, estimated at three hundred thousand 
men. With them was a little body of six hundred 
English troops under the command of Major Law- 
rence, who were worth more in battle than this in- 
numerable multitude. Nazir's enemies were now 
alarmed and discouraged. An attempt to capture 
Trichinopoly was unsuccessful; there was a mutiny 
among the French troops, and they retreated to Pondi- 
cherri. With the mutability of the eastern tempera- 
ment, Mozuffer now despaired of success, and, receiving 
some promises of favorable treatment, he mounted an 
elepbant, fled from the camp of his allies, and surren- 
dered himself to Nazir Jung. The promise was kept 
as such promises were kept in the East: Mozuffer 
was at once put in chains, and might anticipate the 
usual fate of defeated sovereigns in India, to be mur- 
dered whenever it suited the pleasure of his conqueror. 

Dupleix was never more energetic than when for- 
tune seemed adverse ; he pimished the mutinous 
officers, restored the discipline of his little army, and 
directed a night attack upon the forces of Nazir 
Jung's lieutenant. It was not difficult to surprise 
an enemy who took no precautions, for the custom of 


Indian soldiers was to eat a hearty supper and then 
smoke opium until they were plunged into a profound 
sleep. ^ The French penetrated into their camp and 
killed some twelve hundred men with a loss of only 
three of their own party. The loss of a few hundred 
men was unimportant, but the moral effect of this 
nocturnal assault was great, and the soldiers of Nazir 
were terrified by opponents who pursued them by 
night as well as by day. He himself did nothing to 
restore what little discipline they ever had. The 
English were discontented and retired to Fort St. 
David; an insignificant night assault had changed 
the whole aspect of the war.'-^ 

In warfare between Indian princes the gain of a 
battle often proved of little permanent importance. 
It was regarded by the victor as an occasion for un- 
limited loot and license ; while he was caressing the 
new inmates of his harem and admiring the additional 
diamonds of his crown, the fruits of the victory were 
lost. The unfortunate Nazir had to deal with enemies 
of a different sort. They followed up their success by 
routing the army of his ally, Mahomet Ali, and then 
at once proceeded to lay siege to Girgee, the strongest 
place in the Carnatic. Girgee had long been regarded 
as impregnable ; it was surrounded by a wall three 
miles in circuit, it was situated between mountains, 
and protected by citadels, the approaches to which 
were so steep as to be almost impassable. Ten thou- 
sand men defended this place, which was now attacked 
by a little body of hardly a thousand. But the as- 
sailants knew how to aim their guns, and were not 
disturbed by the tumultuous discharges of weapons 

^ Orme is my authority for this statement. 

2 Mem. of Colonel Lawrence, and Mss. Bib. Nat. 


fired at random, and they were commanded by Bussy, 
the ablest officer the French ever sent to India. The 
priest pronounced his blessing on the little army, and 
then discharged his pistol towards the enemy. At 
this signal, the soldiers at once rushed to storm the 
town, and before sundown Girgee was in their pos- 
session. The citadels were still held by the natives. 
At four in the morning the moon set, and in the dark- 
ness which followed the French climbed up the steep 
ascents, and by daybreak the French flag floated in a 
town into which no foreign soldier had before entered. 
Of all the victories won by the French, none produced 
a greater effect than the capture of Girgee. The place 
had defied the most famous of eastern warriors at the 
head of armies of hundreds of thousands of men, and 
soldiers, who had captured it in a night, had indeed 
proved their invincibility. The fruits of the victory 
were of a nature peculiar to eastern civilization : a 
number of the most powerful supporters of Nazir in- 
formed Dupleix of their readiness to desert a failing 
cause, and offered to carry their treason into effect as 
soon as an opportunity opened. 

In December, 1750, the French attacked the army 
under the command of Nazir Jung. He soon recog- 
nized the signs of treachery among his adherents, and, 
giving orders to cut off the head of Mozuffer without 
delay, he drove his elephants furiously towards the 
Nawab of Kudda. As he approached, the nawab shot 
him dead. The executioner of Mozuffer knew of the 
plot, and had judiciously waited for the result before 
obeying his orders. The announcement of Nazir's 
death decided his action ; instead of beheading Mo- 
zuffer, he saluted him as his sovereign ; his chains were 
struck off, he mounted the elephant of the late ruler. 


the great vassals of the Dekkan crowded about him 
to pay their reverence, and the head of the unfortu- 
nate Nazir was cut off and presented to him. Half 
an hour before, Mozuffer had been sitting in fetters, 
waiting the blow of the headsman ; now he was the 
acknowledged ruler of thirty-five million people ; so 
rapid were the changes in the political kaleidoscope 
of India. 

It was fitting that the installation of the new ruler 
should take place in the presence of the man to whom 
he owed his fortune, and on the 31st of December, 
1750, Mozuffer Jung made his solemn entry into 
Pondicherri. The day was auspicious for the great 
ceremonial ; the sun and sky of India were never more 
brilliant. The subahdar was mounted on an elephant 
of enormous size, and by him floated his standard, a 
black flag, on which were emblazoned a sun and a 
crescent ; twenty-four elephants followed carrying his 
generals ; ten thousand horsemen acted as escort, each 
holding his sabre in his hand ; over twenty-seven hun- 
dred standards of every variety and device marked the 
dignity of as many great officials ; at the end of the 
long procession, twelve elephants carried the women of 
his family, shut up in inclosed towers to protect them 
from the public gaze, and guarded by five thousand 
arquebusiers. The cortege was met by Dupleix, who 
from principle indulged in a splendor which equaled 
that of the native rulers. He knew well that the 
trappings of state had their influence on the eastern 
mind, and he never neglected them. He was now 
attended by a great body of guards ; the little army 
of French and sepoys followed, proud in the recollec- 
tion of the brilliant victories they had won ; two ele- 
phants carried the standard of France and that of the 


viceroy of the Emperor of Delhi, the dignity which 
Dupleix held. As Dupleix reached the tent erected 
for the occasion, the firing of the French artillery 
was so furious that some of the Hindu nobles were 
observed to be shaking with terror. A throne had 
been placed for the subahdar ; as he mounted it he 
bade Dupleix ascend and sit by his side. The new 
ruler of the Dekkan was then solemnly installed in 
his office ; thirty nawabs and fifty rajahs from his ex- 
tensive dominions were present to swear allegiance. 
When this was ended Mozuffer turned to Dupleix 
and said that his future conduct as a sovereign should 
be guided by his advice ; not even a favor would be 
granted without his approval, and he prayed for the 
continuance of his friendship ; he declared that the 
French people he regarded as his own, and he put 
himself and his family under the protection of the 
great king beyond the water. He proved this to be 
no idle form of words by the gifts which he then 
bestowed. To the company was given in sovereignty 
Masulipatam and other districts containing a large 
population, and yielding a revenue estimated at four 
hundred thousand rupees. Next were announced the 
honors intended for Dupleix, the representative of 
France, the king-maker of India. He was invested 
with the dress marking the highest dignity of the court 
of Delhi ; he received the rank of a captain of seven 
thousand horse ; he was granted the privilege of carry- 
ing the ensign of the red fish, an honor which yielded 
to no other the Great Mogul could bestow ; the for- 
tress of Valdaur and its dependencies, producing a 
revenue of one hundred thousand rupees, were given to 
him individually, for himself and his heirs ; and last 
and most important, in the name of the king of kings, 

who sat upon the peacock throne, Mozuffer proclaimed 
Dupleix nawab of all the territory that extended from 
the Kistna to Cape Comorin ; he was made governor 
of states almost as great as the kingdom of France, 
inhabited by millions of people, yielding a vast rev- 
enue, fruitful in all the products which grow in the 
rich soil of India. The lad who had left France twenty 
years before, with a scanty outfit, to seek his fortune 
in strange lands, was now the ruler of dominions more 
wealthy and more populous than the domains of many 
a European monarch. 

Dupleix received these honors in a manner that in- 
creased the admiration with which he was regarded. 
He had not engaged in this war, he said, to con- 
quer kingdoms, but to obey the orders of the Great 
Mogul whose vassal he was ; he would retain this title 
of Nawab of the Carnatic, but he asked that the gov- 
ernment of that great district with all its emoluments 
should be bestowed upon his faithful ally, Chunda 
Sahib. The subahdar consented to this magnanimous 
abnegation, and the Hindus gazed with awe on the 
superior being who won and gave away kingdoms, 
who had overthrown mighty rulers, and now refused 
the emoluments of one of the gi-eatest offices in India, 
in order to bestow them upon a follower.^ 

The triumph of Mozuffer Jung was the triumph of 
French influence in the Dekkan as well as in the Car- 
natic. The new subahdar asked that a body of French 
soldiers should accompany him to his own provinces 
under the command of some fit officer, by whose coun- 
sel he could profit. This was exactly what Dupleix 
desired ; the whole country from the Narbada to Cape 

^ Full accounts of this ceremonial are found in various letters 
written at the time by French officers and residents. 


Comorln would now be controlled in the interests of 
France, and would be really tributary to the French 
throne. There was also a man eminently fitted for 
the position of confidential adviser of the subahdar. 
Bussy had distinguished himself in the late war against 
Nazir Jung ; superior to Dupleix in military talent, 
he was hardly inferior to him in skill in dealing with 
the native princes, and he was an enthusiastic advo- 
cate of the policy of the governor-general. There 
was but one objection to his selection, and though it 
could not have been foreseen, it proved disastrous. It 
took him far away from the Carnatic, and no other 
French officer in India developed any talent as a 
general ; in the future contests in the peninsula, the 
defeat of the French troops was due to the incapacity 
of their commanders. Bussy was the only man who 
might perhaps have contended successfully against the 
genius of Clive. 

For the present the star of Dupleix's fortune was in 
the ascendant. He founded a city on the spot where 
Nazir had met defeat and death, and it was called 
Dupleix Futteh-abad, the place of the victory of Du- 
pleix. His enemies criticised this and many other of 
his acts, as dictated by an overweening arrogance and 
vanity. The criticism seems hardl}^ just when we con- 
sider the people with whom he had to deal. He knew 
well the effect of display on the Oriental mind ; the 
governor who appeared arrayed in magnificent cos- 
tumes, surrounded by an imposing guard, after whom 
cities were named, before whom nawabs and rajahs 
prostrated themselves, was far more impressive to the 
Hindu population than some plainly dressed French 
official, who should stay quietly in his office, disdain- 
ing titles and pomp. 


Mozuffer now started to take possession of his gov- 
ernment, accompanied by three hundred French sol- 
diers and eighteen hundred sepoys, under the command 
of Bussy. Mozuffer had little opportunity to enjoy 
the position which he had gained after so many vicis- 
situdes. On his march to the Dekkan a quarrel arose 
between the subahdar and some of his rajahs. Mozuf- 
fer ordered a body of soldiers to attack the offend- 
ers, and in the skirmish which followed he was pierced 
by a javelin and fell dead. For a moment the plans 
of the French seemed hopelessly compromised, but 
Bussy was master of the situation. Nominally, it was 
for the Mogul at Delhi to fill Mozuffer's place, and 
choose the man who should govern the Dekkan as his 
representative. This right of appointment had long 
been only a fiction ; when the subahdar died, the office 
was seized by the one of his kinsmen who was most 
prompt and adroit in obtaining the support of the 
army and of the great nobles. A disputed succession 
now seemed inevitable, and, had it not been for the 
French, the Dekkan would have been plunged in civil 
war. The ascendency which Dupleix had obtained was 
strikingly shown at this crisis. The claims of the rival 
candidates were at once advanced ; the widow of Mo- 
zuffer asked that her son should succeed his father as 
subahdar; three brothers of Nazir Jung had been 
held in custody, but they were now released, and their 
friends prepared to support their pretensions. With 
one accord the rival claimants and their adherents 
turned to the representative of France to decide be- 
tween them, and the sovereign of thirty-five million 
Hindus was selected by a young French officer of 
thirty-two. Bussy heard the claims of the contesting 
parties, and he considered under which candidate order 


and tranquillity could best be maintained. Mozuffer 
Jung had been the ally of France, but his son was a 
child ; Nazir Jung had been overthrown by France, but 
his brothers now asked for the protection of Dupleix 
and promised fidelity.^ Under such circumstances 
Bussy decided that the fittest candidate was Salabut 
Jung, the oldest of the three brothers. The Hindu 
nobles, the army, the vast population of the Dekkan, 
submissively accepted the ruler selected for them, and 
the choice was ratified by Dupleix. The form of a 
nomination by the court of Delhi was still adhered to, 
and an imperial decree was produced which designated 
Salabut as viceroy of the Great Mogul in the Dekkan. 
It was said that the instrument was a forgery, and for 
any practical purposes it was immaterial whether it 
was genuine or apocryphal ; a word from the French 
general was enough to transform Salabut from a cap- 
tive to the sovereign of a great country.'^ 

It was with good reason that Bussy expected to 
exercise the same influence over the new sovereign 
that he had possessed with Mozuffer ; it was to the 
French that Salabut owed his promotion, it was by 
French arms that his rivals could be overthrown. He 
was, moreover, a prince of feeble character and desti- 
tute of experience, whose life had been divided be- 
tween hunting and the harem, and he was a puppet 
in the hands of a resolute man ; the country was gov- 
erned in the name of Salabut and by the will of 
Bussy ; he was the mayor of the palace of Aurunga- 
bad ; for eight years the Dekkan could be regarded 
as a province administered by a French proconsul. 

^ Relation de Kerjean. 

2 In these transactions in the Dekkan I have followed the 
report sent to Argenson by Kerjean, Bussy's lieutenant. 


With the assistance of his allies, Salabut was able 
to repel the Mahrattas and his other enemies, and to 
enjoy a tranquillity not often found in the countries 
which acknowledged the nominal authority of the 
Mogul. The subahdar was a man of infirm purpose, 
and Bussy kept a vigilant watch lest some native ad- 
viser should make him forget the benefits of foreign 
aid, and lure him into an attempt to throw off foreign 
dependence. The little French army was stationed in 
the citadel which commanded Aurungabad. They 
were there as the auxiliaries of Salabut and to serve 
him in his wars, but the nominal ally was the real 
master. A rigid discipline averted the danger of a 
foreign occupation becoming odious to the popula- 
tion. No soldier could leave the fortress without the 
written permission of the commander ; drunkenness 
and quarrels with the inhabitants were strictly for- 
bidden. A soldier helped himself to an orange from 
a tree, and the gardener made complaint to the 
general. Bussy fixed the price of the orange at one 
hundred rupees, and ordered the soldier to pay this 
sum on the spot. Marauding at such a price had no 

In his own conduct Bussy followed the example of 
Dupleix. Courteous with those of every degree, he 
maintained a state which impressed the natives with 
his greatness. When the public were admitted to 
gaze upon him, they found him surrounded by his 
officers and seated upon an elevated chair, on which 
were emblazoned the arms of the kins: of France. 
His table was served with magnificent plate ; when 
he attended a review or procession, he rode on an 
elephant, preceded by a troop of native poets and 
^ Relation de Kerjean. 


musicians, singing the exploits and the glory of the 

Such pomp was partly for political effect, but it was 
also agreeable to Bussy's tastes ; he used his place, as 
did Dupleix and Clive, to gain great wealth for him- 
self, and he was not above profiting by the princely 
donations which were offered to a successful general 
in India. When Salabut found himself established 
in his capital, he rewarded his allies with royal lib- 
erality, and it was said that the share of the French 
commander was one hundred thousand pounds. Such 
practices were universal ; but if Bussy accepted wagon- 
loads of gold and baskets of jewels from grateful 
subahdars and nawabs, he never allowed his desire for 
wealth to interfere with his zeal for the interests of 

It was not long before the subahdar was exposed 
to influences hostile to the French occupation. Syud 
Lushker Khan, a crafty Mahometan, became his prime 
minister. Sickness compelled Bussy to absent himself 
for a while, and Syud succeeded in dispersing the lit- 
tle army of French and sepoys through various dis- 
tricts ; they were irregularly paid, every effort was 
made to render them discontented with the service, and 
the minister applied to the English for aid in reliev- 
ing the country from its French protectors. These 
intrigues were discovered, and the wily minister found 
that he was dealing with resolute and dangerous ene- 
mies. Dupleix, like Hastings, never hesitated at any 
step which he thought the political situation required. 
" Would n't it be well for the authority of the subahdar 
and for our own interest," he wrote Bussy, " to chop 

* Sere Mutakeim. A little allowance should probably be made 
for the fervid imagination of an eastern authority. 


off the head of Syud Lushker Khan? Great evils 
need great remedies." ^ 

His lieutenant did not resort to this measure, but 
he speedily brought the minister to terms. Hastening 
from his sick-bed, and collecting his little army at 
Hyderabad, he resolved at once to proceed to Aurun- 
gabad. It was a march of five hundred miles, the 
country through which he had to pass might prove 
hostile, and he had but a handful of men amid a dense 
population. But he did not hesitate, and the news of 
the French approach threw Syud Lushker into abject 
terror. He made no attempt to stop their ad- 
vance, and as soon as Bussy had reached Aurungabad 
he confessed his evil ways, and promised fidelity for 
the future. The French commander did not follow 
Dupleix's suggestion, and Syud's head remained on 
his shoulders, but terms were exacted which should 
insure the future docility of the subahdar. He agreed 
to undertake no measures without Bussy 's advice and 
approval ; by an article still more important, he ceded 
to the French Company of the Indies four great prov- 
inces, constituting what is now known as the Southern 
Circars, of which the French should receive the rev- 
enues so long as they maintained an army in the 
Dekkan. Such a concession was practically an abso- 
lute grant. It was Dupleix's purpose to keep a French 
army permanently in the Dekkan, and to hold that 
country in the interest of France. The territory 
ceded extended for almost five hundred miles along 
the coast, it yielded a revenue of four hundred thou- 
sand pounds, it contained many important cities, it 
was rich in the products of the soil, its manufactures 
were extensive and varied. No European nation had 
1 Dupleix to Bussy, January 17, 1754. 


ever possessed in India a dominion such as the French 
now held ; they received the revenue of the Circars, 
the Dekkan was controlled by Bussy, and Dupleix 
was nawab of the territory south of the Kistna ; 
almost the whole of the great peninsula between the 
Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, where now dwell 
one hundred million people, was tributary to France. 

While the power of France was thus increased in 
the Dekkan, Dupleix met with new difficulties in the 
Carnatic, and he encountered the man whose genius, 
assisted by the impotence of the French government, 
secured the empire of India for England. 

Mahomet Ali, notwithstanding his defeats, had re- 
fused to submit to the authority of Chunda Sahib. 
Dupleix offered him liberal terms, for if Mahomet 
were quieted, nothing remained to disturb the tran- 
quillity of the Carnatic. Left to his own resources, 
he would have been obliged to submit, but at last the 
English resolved to come to his assistance, and to 
oppose Dupleix in his endeavors to obtain complete 
control of the peninsula. Encouraged by the promises 
of their aid, Mahomet refused to make peace, and 
Dupleix resolved to reduce him to submission. Tri- 
chinopoly was the capital of the district which recog- 
nized Mahomet's authority, and the French undertook 
the siege of that city. If their efforts had been suc- 
cessful, it is probable that the peninsula would have 
become a French possession ; but their failure, fol- 
lowed by Dupleix' s recaU, left the way clear for the 
establishment of the British empire in India. 

The force sent to besiege Trichinopoly was large 
enough for the purpose, and it is doubtful if even 
Clive could have saved the place if he had encoun- 
tered a general of moderate capacity. It detracts 


nothing from Clive's glory, but it was his good for- 
tune that in the memorable contest between France 
and England in India he met men far below medi- 
ocrity as opponents in the field. The death of Para- 
dis and the transfer of Bussy to the Dekkan left 
Dupleix with no competent officers ; his military oper- 
ations failed almost without exception by reason of 
the blundering incapacity of the men to whom their 
execution was intrusted. It was perhaps a mistake 
that he did not himself accompany his forces. He 
was not indeed an educated soldier, but Clive's mili- 
tary education consisted in poring over books of 
account and drawing bills of lading. Successful war- 
fare in India, where small bodies of men encountered 
undisciplined opponents, did not require the military 
skill with which an army of one hundred thousand 
men manoeuvred in the battlefields of Europe; if 
Clive had gone from his desk at Madras to command 
an army in Flanders, his career might have been less 
successful. But Dupleix showed no disposition to act 
as leader of his soldiers, or to replace the lamentable 
incapacity of his officers. His enemies said that his 
boldness as a political schemer was not accompanied 
by an equal degree of physical bravery. It may have 
been so. Still, he showed courage at the siege of 
Pondicherri, and he may have argued with justice 
that if he exposed himself to the dangers of battle, 
and fell by some stray bullet or javelin, his death 
would be a fatal blow to French success in India. At 
all events, the command of the army besieging Tri- 
chinopoly was given to Law, a nephew of the famous 
John Law, and a worse man for the position could 
not have been found. 

The French blockaded the town, and its capture 


seemed only a question of time. The place could 
have been taken by storm, but Law declared that such 
an undertaking would cost the lives of too many men. 
If Dupleix had not the skill to command an army in 
the field, he had good judgment as to the course to 
be pursued. " The thing to be considered," he wrote 
Law, " is not how many men may be lost, but how to 
be done with the matter." Such remonstrances were 
wasted on his inert lieutenant, and while the siege 
dragged along, Dupleix found himself confronted with 
a new and dangerous antagonist. Taking a small 
body of men, Clive endeavored to divert the atten- 
tion of the French from Trichinopoly by capturing 
the important city of Arcot, the capital of the pos- 
sessions of Chunda Sahib, and the advantage which 
he thus gained he secured by his famous defense of 
the place against an army twenty times larger than 
his own. 

While these victories did much to increase the pres- 
tige of the English in India, they did not accomplish 
the object which Clive desired ; Dupleix kept his 
forces before Trichinopoly, and the town was still 
closely invested. The English, under Major Law- 
rence, with Clive for his second, now advanced to the 
relief of the city. Their plans were well designed, 
yet such were the advantages of Law's position that 
he could easily have repelled them. But the French 
commander manifested not only lack of military skill, 
but irresolution and timidity. In the midst of the 
siege he had written Dupleix asking that he might 
leave the army and return to Pondicherri, as his wife 
was to be confined and desired his presence. " Hus- 
bands usually avoid such scenes, which are very dis- 
gusting," replied Dupleix, *'and you choose the most 


critical moment, when the fate of Trichinopoly is to 
be decided." Law might as well have been at his 
wife's bedside as to have remained where he was. The 
English forced their way to Trichinopoly; not only 
was the siege raised, but the French army was now 
in a critical position. A position that was dangerous 
Law soon changed into a situation that was hopeless ; 
his only course was to fall back upon Pondicherri ; 
the retreat woidd not have been free from danger, but 
it might have been made with small loss. Instead 
of this, Law transferred his entire force to the island 
of Serin gham, and the English at once cut ofp his 
retreat. Nothing now remained but to fight his way 
out or to surrender. As a last resort, Dupleix gath- 
ered together some reinforcements from the troops 
not already engaged at the siege, and they endeavored 
to form a junction with those shut up in the island. 
The governor took another step which had been too 
long delayed : he directed Law to turn over his com- 
mand to Auteuil. " I am persuaded," added Dupleix 
sarcastically in his letter, " that this arrangement will 
give great pleasure to your wife." But it was too 
late for any measure to be efficacious ; Law did not 
cooperate with the forces coming to his relief, and 
they were defeated by Clive. The French commander 
was paralyzed either by physical timidity or by the 
dread of an engagement, his provisions were failing, 
he dared not cross the river and risk a battle, and on 
the 3d of June, 1752, the army under his command, 
nearly eight hundred Europeans and two thousand 
sepoys, became prisoners of war.^ Chunda Sahib was 
with them, and he had shown during the siege a mili- 

1 The MSS. account iu the Bih. Nat. says there were only four 
hundred and fourteen Europeans made prisoners^ 


tary judgment far superior to that of the French com- 
mander. He now fell into the hands of his enemies, 
and met the usual fate of defeated rulers in India : he 
was at once stabbed, and his head was cut off and sent 
in triumph to Mahomet Ali.^ 

Such a reverse would have discouraged most men, 
but Dupleix was indomitable. His soldiers were pris- 
oners, his ally was killed, but he at once began to 
seek new alliances and to collect new forces. He 
received a little aid from home, for five hundred men 
sent by the company arrived at Pondicherri. They 
were the refuse of the community : pickpockets who 
found Paris uncomfortable, bandits who had escaped 
from the jail and the galleys ; they- were ill armed, they 
did not know how to perform the simplest military 
evolution, but they were white men, and they could 
be equipped and drilled, and taught how to fire a gun. 
Sickness compelled Clive to return to Europe, and 
removed Dupleix" s most formidable adversary. The 
princes who were allied with Mahomet Ali became 
jealous and discontented, and Jan Begum plied them 
with her most adroit letters. Hopes of gain detached 
the powerful regent of Mysore from the coalition ; 
Dupleix obtained the warlike Mahrattas as allies ; 
some small successes restored the prestige of the 
French army, and in 1753 the siege of Trichinopoly 
was again undertaken. 

But fortune had deserted Dupleix. Seven hundred 
soldiers, under an experienced and skillful officer, 
sailed from France to recruit his scanty army ; the 

^ For the siege of Trichinopoly there are the French official 
reports, the correspondence of Dupleix, and various MSS. ac- 
counts in the Bih. Nat., also the memoirs of Lawrence. The best 
modern account is found in Malleson's French in India. 


vessel was lost with almost every man on board. A 
well-cohcerted attempt was made to surprise Trichi- 
nopoly, and the French succeeded in mounting the out- 
works unobserved. Their orders were to push on in 
silence, but in the exultation of success, they let off a 
volley and roused the garrison. If the order to keep 
silence had been obeyed, said the English officers, the 
town would have been captured ; as it was, the attack 
resulted in a disastrous failure.^ 

Still, the position of Dupleix was by no means des- 
perate ; the Subahdar of the Dekkan, whose power was 
second only to that of the Mogul, was his firm ally ; 
the influence which the French exerted in the Car- 
natic was not inferior to that of the English, and in 
his ability to enlist the native princes in his cause, 
Dupleix was equaled by no one ; a few thousand good 
soldiers would still have secured India to France. 
He sent Auteuil to Paris to explain the situation, 
and to ask the aid of the government in the great 
enterprises which he had undertaken. " The honor 
and glory of the king and the advantage to the nation 
are the two points he will discuss," wrote Dupleix. 
" The minister must act, and the king give his orders." ^ 
Trusting to arguments that might prove more effica- 
cious with Louis XV. than appeals for the glory of 
France, Mrae. Dupleix sent magnificent presents to 
be given to Mme. de Pompadour. 

In the mean time Dupleix began negotiations for 
peace, but they were little more than a farce. Du- 
pleix would concede nothing that could permanently 
affect the influence of France ; the English desired 
no peace which should leave that unimpaired. " The 

1 See the accounts of Lawrence and Colonel Wilkes, 
a Dupleix, October 15, 1752. 


conferences will result in nothing," Dupleix wrote to 
Bussy, "unless we are willing to dishonor ourselves, 
and you will never advise me to do that."^ Both par- 
ties produced proofs of the titles of the princes they 
supported, but in India the only valid title was su- 
perior force. If any local potentate thought that a 
firman signed by the Emperor of Delhi or the Subahdar 
of the Dekkan would render his claim more plausible, 
he never hesitated to forge what was required. " All 
that we produced on our side," said Dupleix, " fir- 
mans, paravanas, and other documents, were forged. 
The other side did not condescend to exhibit anything 
to us, either forged or genuine, but said that we could 
take their word for what they alleged." ^ The nego- 
tiations resulted in nothing. 

The disasters at Trichinopoly had sealed the fate 
of Dupleix. During all the years that he had been 
building up the power of France in the East, he 
had met either opposition or lukewarm support from 
the directors of the East India Company; his plans 
aroused no enthusiasm in the public mind ; the possi- 
bility of a French empire in India excited less interest 
at Versailles than the appointment of a gentleman in 
waiting, or the success of the last comedy at Mme. de 
Pompadour's theatre. 

The French Company of the Indies had never 
grasped the possibilities which might result from 
Dupleix's policy. The directors were interested only 
in earning dividends, and they did not realize that the 
profits on a few shiploads of spice or cotton cloth 
were paltry compared mth the wealth to be gained by 
administering great states. It was a question whether 

1 Letter of December 31, 1753. 

2 Dupleix to Bussy. 


they should be princes or shopkeepers, and they pre- 
ferred to remain shopkeepers. "It is time to limit 
the extent of our possessions in India," the directors 
wrote the governor-general ; " the company fears any 
increase of its domains. Its object is not to become 
a great power." ^ "The company desires nothing 
which can excite the jealousy of other nations ; it does 
not need states, but some port for its trade with a ter- 
ritory two or three leagues in extent." ^ " What shall 
we answer," they wrote again, " to those who say we 
wish to be conquerors instead of merchants ? " ^ " The 
company wishes no alliance with any legitimate sov- 
ereign or with any usurper. Let them end their 
quarrels as they can without our furnishing aid to one 
side or the other." ^ 

Louis XV. and his ministers took no broader or 
more statesmanlike views than the merchants who as- 
sembled in the Rue neuve des Capucins. " We wish," 
wrote the royal commissioner, " no victories, no con- 
quests, a great deal of merchandise, and some increase 
in dividends." The Subahdar of the Dekkan asked 
for a force of French auxiliaries, which, though not 
large in itself, would have rendered him the most 
powerful sovereign in India ; the expense of this army 
would have been paid by further grants to the com- 
pany, and they would have remained under Bussy's 
command ; with such a force the subahdar could have 
dictated terms at the gates of Delhi or Calcutta, and 
the army of the greatest ruler in India would have 
been led by a French general, his policy would have 

1 Letter of February 1, 1752. 

2 Instructions to Godehue. 

3 Letter of January 2, 1753. 

* Silhouette to Dupleix, September 13, 1752. 


been dictated by a French statesman, his dominions 
would have been really tributary to France. 

When Dupleix asked for this assistance, he met with 
a chilling response. It was the decision of the king, 
as well as of the company, wrote the directors, that 
the request should be refused ; such measures, it was 
feared, could only serve to teach the inhabitants of 
the country the arts of war ; " once accustomed to war- 
fare," added the directors, " will they not become our 
masters? and should we take the hazard of finding 
ourselves in so dangerous a condition ? The position 
we should take is that of an exact neutrality. An 
alliance with Mozuffer Jung or Chunda Sahib may 
serve to foster their ambition and to perpetuate disturb- 
ances in India which will be fatal to our commerce." ^ 

Despite such discouraging instructions, Dupleix had 
established Bussy in the Dekkan, with an army that 
was formidable in courage and discipline, if not in 
numbers, and there was now an opportunity to open 
diplomatic relations with the Mogul himself. The 
governor-general saw in his imagination a French 
proconsul established at Delhi as at Aurungabad, and 
in the Mogul, an ally, a representative, and even a 
subject of France. " You and all of Europe will be 
surprised at the effect such an embassy will produce," 
wrote Dupleix. " The time for the harvest is come, 
and we must profit by it." Such an embassy required 
to be accompanied with presents fitting the dignity of 
the monarch to whom it was sent, and this was enough 
to alarm the directors. " You were at least indiscreet 
in determining upon such an important step," they 
wrote Dupleix ; " the company has no thoughts of 
sending presents to the Mogul. It is an expense 
1 Letter of February 1, 1752. 



which we must avoid." It is by such considerations 
that the fate of nations is decided. 

In truth, these visions of Dupleix, which were soon 
to be realized by the English, were regarded in France 
as the wildest chimeras. " You may say," wrote the 
minister of finance to the French ambassador at Lon- 
don, "that we do not desire to have possessions in 
India more extensive than those of England, nor to 
exact nine millions of revenue, nor to keep for our- 
selves the exclusive commerce of Golconda or the 
Coromandel coast. We look upon such projects as 
chimeras." ^ The abbes and poets of Versailles jested 
about the visions of Dupleix, who thought that with 
two or three thousand soldiers he could dictate terms 
to the Great Mogul, who sat on a throne of precious 
stones, surrounded by a splendor that Versailles could 
not excel ; whose armies were hundreds of thousands 
of men, and whose treasury contained untold lakhs of 

The indifference of the court was shared by the 
public, and an evil example was set by the economical 
writers, who already exercised a considerable influence 
on French thought. The economists taught much 
that was wise and much that was foolish, and for colo- 
nial development and the acquisition of foreign empire 
they professed a philosophical contempt. This phase 
of popular feeling, like so many of its phases, found 
its expression in Voltaire. 

"These vast domains," he wrote, "these costly 
establishments, and the wars undertaken to maintain 
them, are the fruit of the effeminacy of our cities and 
the avidity of our merchants. It is to furnish the 
bourgeois of Paris and London with more delicacies 
1 Machault to Mirepoix, March 11, 1754. 


than are consumed at the tables of princes, to bedeck 
the wives of citizens with more diamonds than queens 
wear at their coronations, and to infect our nostrils 
with a disgusting powder, that this immense commerce 
has started, which is always disadvantageous to three 
quarters of Europe ; it is to sustain this commerce 
that gTeat powers have begun a war, where the first 
cannon fired has opened the batteries of America and 
Asia." 1 

When the projects of Dupleix were regarded by the 
king, the company, and the public as the chimeras of 
an excited imagination, it was only by constant suc- 
cess that he could retain his position. The directors 
had given a grudging approval to his actions when 
they resulted in the elevation of Mozuffer and of 
Chunda Sahib, and in the acquisition of large terri- 
tories by the company. Even if they mistrusted his 
policy, they could hardly condemn undertakings which 
had been crowned with signal success. But he was 
constantly crippled by the feeble support they gave 
him; during the eleven years in which he had made 
French influence predominant from Cape Comorin to 
Aurungabad, the company sent him only two thou- 
sand two hundred soldiers in all.^ It was the advice 
of Godehue, who finally succeeded him in office, to 
stint the reinforcements sent to India, lest Dupleix 
should become too aggressive.^ The directors were 
in constant apprehension of the complications in which 
they might become involved, and the king and his 

^ Fragments sur Vlnde. 

2 Mem. pour Dupleix, App. 2. 

^ This policy is stated in the manuscript journal of Godehue. 
See pp. 28, 31: " II faut qu'il ne puisse pas abuser de trop grandes 
forces," etc. 

DUPLE IX. 425 

ministers had no sympathy with plans to win for 
France an empire greater than that which had been 
ruled by Charlemagne. 

When it was known at Paris that the siege of Tri- 
chinopoly had resulted in failure, and that Law's army 
had surrendered to the English, all the enemies of 
Dupleix, those who believed him a tyrant, those who 
were envious of his success, his wealth, and his power, 
united in demanding his overthrow. The officers of 
the English Company at last realized that India offered 
a field for enterprises more important than shipping 
ivory and spice from Calcutta, or selling knives from 
Birmingham, and they knew that Dupleix was the 
greatest obstacle to English domination in the East. 
It is strange that the managers of the French Company 
should have thought it wise to be governed in the 
choice of their agents by the opinion of their rivals, 
but so it was. They cherished the delusion that the 
two companies could agree upon an amicable division 
of the Indian trade, abandon all thoughts of territo- 
rial dominion, leave subahdars and nawabs to fight 
their own battles, and devote themselves in harmony to 
the peaceable earning of dividends.^ " Nothing could 
be easier," replied the English, " if you would only 
remove that firebrand Dupleix ; it is his wild ambition, 
his restless interference, that keeps India in confusion 
and prevents us both from earning our dividends in 
peace." ^ Such suggestions met the approval of the 

^ See the proposition to that effect in the archives of the 
marine, prepared by the French Company for submission to the 
English. As has been truly said, it reads like an idyl of St. 

a There are constant statements to this effect in the corre- 
spondence from the French agents in England. See especially 
the letters of Duvalaer. 


officers of the French Company, and they were agree- 
able to the French ministers. The government wished 
to avoid any quarrel with England ; Dupleix was in- 
volving them in schemes for which they had no taste ; 
by sacrificing him they hoped to gain the good will of 
the English and secure their own tranquillity. 

It was decided to recall Dupleix, and in October, 
1753, Godehue was chosen to represent both the king 
and the company in India. He took with him an 
order for Dupleix's recall, and also secret directions 
for his arrest if any resistance were attempted.^ The 
odious comedy was played of assuring Dupleix that 
Godehue was sent to his assistance with a large body 
of troops.^ " Godehue," wrote Dupleix, " is the dear- 
est of my friends ; I await him with impatience." On 
the 1st of August, 1754, the friend reached Pondi- 
cherri ; he at once presented to Dupleix letters of 
recall, and bade him and his family take passage for 
Europe at the first opportunity.^ Dupleix submitted 
quietly to these orders, and it was not thought neces- 
sary to put him under arrest. 

No event could have caused greater excitement in 
India than the overthrow of the famous French gov- 
ernor-general. Not only did his adherents see in this 
step the ruin of French interests, but the native rul- 
ers took the same view.* With entire justice they 
regarded it as a triumph for England, and they could 
conceive no reason for Dupleix's recall, except that 

^ Instructions for Godehue. The order for Dupleix's arrest 
was signed by the king, October 29, 1753. 

2 See among other letters that of Godehue to Dupleix, March 
31, 1753. 

3 MS. Journal de Godehue, 105. 

* See the various letters published in the Memoires pour le 
Sieur Dupleix. 


France feared the English and had deposed him at 
their dictation. " It appears that the French are 
neither as powerful nor as generous as they wished us 
to believe," wrote one of the ministers of the Subah- 
dar of the Dekkan, " and the English have the upper 
hand of them. I will not conceal the fact that I pur- 
pose to treat with the English." 

Not only was Dupleix disgraced and his policy 
abandoned, but he was himself reduced to poverty. 
To the cause that was dear to him he had devoted his 
entire fortune ; he had advanced all his ready money, 
and in addition he had pledged his credit for vast 
sums. These moneys had been expended in the enter- 
prises of the company ; his acts had been ratified by 
its officers, and they had resulted in territorial gains 
from which great revenues could have been obtained. 
The cash advances of Dupleix were said to amount to 
three million livres, and he had pledged his credit for 
four million more.^ The company surrendered the 
advantages which he had gained for it, and repudiated 
the debts which he had incurred. All of Dupleix's 
possessions in India were confiscated, the bills which 
he held were dishonored ; even his personal effects were 
seized, and it was with difficulty that he procured the 
release of sufficient linen for his voyage.^ He found 
himself a ruined man. 

He returned to France and presented his claim 
against the company. It seems to have been a just 

1 Mem. pour Dupleix, 118, 122, 135. 

* See Mem. pour Dupleix, 173, Godehue denies this, and says 
he took the revenues and the possessions granted Dupleix in 
India for the benefit of his creditors. Journal, 274. But his 
creditors were those who had advanced money to the company 
on his credit. 


one. It is certain that Dupleix was a man of great 
wealth when he was made governor-general, and was 
hopelessly bankrupt when he was removed, unless the 
company would repay the advances he had made. 
There could be no better proof of the honesty of his 
conduct and the extent of his sacrifices. If he had 
invested his wealth in lands and rentes in France, 
instead of devoting it to the cause in which he was 
engaged, he could have returned to his own country 
and supported a state which would have eclipsed that 
of the richest prince of the blood, he could have built 
palaces more splendid than those erected by the most 
extravagant of farmers-general ; he did go back to 
obscurity and need, to wear out his life in struggling 
with his creditors and endeavoring to escape the 
bailiff. The company refused to allow his claims on 
the plea that they were not verified as the regulations 
required ; the administration in India was now hostile 
to him, and the technical verification demanded he was 
unable to obtain. He had no friends at court ; the 
litigation dragged along for years without decision; 
the company held his property in India and would 
give him nothing. If his claims were larger than it 
could meet, at least a faithful servant should not have 
been left to end his days in need. But Dupleix was 
never paid a sou. He spent eight years at Paris, lead- 
ing the saddest of all lives, that of a needy litigant. 
In 1758, his suit against the company was sent to the 
royal council, and there for the five remaining years of 
his life it rested undecided. His creditors seized what 
effects he had in France, and threatened him with im- 
prisonment ; his wife and daughter died in distress. 
One of the last letters written by the once famous 
Jan Begum was a request to the comptroller general 

DUPLE IX. 429 

not to allow her husband to be imprisoned for debt.^ 
"It is the last letter I shall write you," she says, 
" and I ask you to give me at least this consolation 
before I die." Dupleix's house was sold on execution ; 
the purchaser demanded possession, and the uphol- 
sterer threatened to sell the furniture. Some of his 
friends interfered to prevent his being put in the 
street, and he was allowed to die under a roof and not 
in the gutter. 

On November 10, 1763, he ended a career more 
strange in vicissitudes than often falls to man's lot ; 
beginning as a humble subordinate, he had become 
the head of a great corporation ; he had ruled em- 
pires, the very names of which were unknown to most 
Europeans ; he had accumulated wealth which would 
seem vast to a prosperous banker of Amsterdam ; he 
had deposed great rulers and placed his followers on 
thrones ; he had inaugurated a policy which was to 
affect the condition, the happiness, tte institutions of 
untold millions of men in ages to come. 

Four days before his death he wrote : " I have sacri- 
ficed my youth, my fortune, and my life to gain power 
and wealth for my country in Asia. Unfortunate 
friends, confiding relatives, have devoted their prop- 
erty to the success of my plans. They are now in 
misery. I demand what is my due, like the meanest 
of creditors ; my services are called fables, my demands 
ridiculous. I am in the most deplorable indigence. 
What little property was left me has been seized 
by my creditors, and I have been obliged to ask aid 
to escape being dragged into prison." No man ever 
summed up his own case more justly. It was the 
treatment accorded one of the greatest French states- 
^ Letter of November 3, 1758. 


men by the government of Louis XV. and Mme. de 

Both Clive and Hastings met with opposition and 
obloquy in their endeavors to win an empire for Great 
Britain, but they lived to see their efforts crowned 
with success, and to enjoy the reward of their services. 
Dupleix was the equal of either in intellect, in resolu- 
tion, and in constancy ; he was their superior in the 
originality of his genius. Had he lived in the time 
of Richelieu or Colbert, he would have served men 
able to understand him and ready to support him ; he 
might have done great things for his country, and 
have gained fame for himself. But his lot was cast 
in the evil days of Louis XV. ; he saw his projects 
brought to naught by the fault of others; he was 
treated with contumely by the king whose reign he 
sought to make glorious-; he was discarded by the 
company to whose service he devoted his life and his 
fortune ; he was regarded with indifference by the 
nation whose wealth and power he would so greatly 
have increased ; he died of a broken heart, with the 
bailiff knocking at his door, and his family asking in 
vain for some one to relieve their distress. 



After the recall of Dupleix, the French empire 
which he had founded in the East soon crumbled away. 
In a few years the supremacy of England was estab- 
lished in India beyond any possibility of future over- 

Godehue was the man selected by the French Com- 
pany to replace the great governor-general, and he 
was sent to India to obtain peace on any terms. The 
company refused Dupleix the soldiers with which he 
might have made himself master of a large part of 
Hindustan, and it sent two thousand men with Gode- 
hue with orders to make peace forthwith. His in- 
structions told him that the great object of his mis- 
sion was to pacify the troubles which had arisen ; he 
was to remember that the company did not wish to 
become a temporal power, that extended possessions 
were difficult to protect, and that his first endeavor 
must be to conciliate the English.^ The new repre- 
sentative of the company was well fitted to carry out 
these pusillanimous directions. He was a man without 
ability, and he suspected every one with whom he 
had to deal.2 Bussy, in his judgment, was an empty 
boaster ; the employees at Pondicherri were the cor- 
rupt tools of his predecessor ; and for the late gov- 

1 Instructions k M. Godehue. 

2 The best proof of this is Godehue's MS. Journal^ preserved 
at the Bih. Nat. 


ernor-general himself he had an envious hatred ; what- 
ever Dupleix had accomplished, Godehue was eager 
to undo. In this purpose he was successful. The 
English had only to propose terms to have them ac- 
cepted ; they were ready to demand concessions, and 
the French were prepared to make them ; there was, 
therefore, little difficulty in reaching an agreement. 
On the 26th of December, 1754, two months after 
Dupleix had sailed for home, a treaty was signed by 
which the French yielded most of the advantages he 
had gained for them. They surrendered a large part 
of their possessions, they agreed to divide with the 
English the great domains which had been ceded 
to France, they renounced all dignities granted by 
native princes, and promised to take no part in the 
disputes between native rulers.^ The English also 
agreed to renounce Indian dignities, but they had 
none to surrender ; they promised to take no part in 
internal dissensions ; the agreement was not observed, 
and it was impossible that it should be. The two 
great western companies could no longer remain mere 
trading corporations ; they must be sovereigns or be 
insignificant.^ The French chose the latter. 

The French Company of the East Indies had dis- 
missed Dupleix and abandoned his policy in its desire 
for peace and dividends ; all that it gained was war 

1 Articles conditionnels sign^s k Pondicherri le 26 Decembre, 
1754. The renunciation of Indian offices and dignities included 
a surrender of the Nawabship of the Carnatic granted to Du- 
pleix as representative of the East India Company. 

' " If the company pursues a timid policy," wrote Dupleix, 
" and takes no part in the internal affairs of India, within thirty 
or forty years it will come to sure ruin." Mem. pour le sieur 
Dupleix, 183. His prophecy was verified in less time than he 
had allowed. 


and bankruptcy. In 1756, the Seven Years* war be- 
gan, and hostilities recommenced in India. But the 
contest was now an unequal one ; the French had 
weakened their prestige, they had surrendered a large 
part of their possessions, they had forfeited the confi- 
dence of most of their allies. In 1757, Clive captured 
Chandarnagar, and with the fall of that place the 
French lost their foothold in Bengal. The relics of 
their power in the Carnatic and the Dekkan were all 
that now remained for the English to destroy. 

At last the court of Versailles resolved to make 
some effort to strengthen the position of France in 
the East. Dupleix had been recalled by the order of 
Louis XV. Godehue had been sent to make peace, 
as the representative of the court as well as of the 
company ; but when the opportunity was gone, it was 
decided that an attempt should be made to regain 
what had been abandoned, to win back what had been 
lost. In 1756, the Count Lally-Tollendal was ap- 
pointed commander of the forces in India, and he was 
sent out with instructions to overthrow the ascendency 
which the English had gained in that country. 

If only zeal had been required, Lally might have 
accomplished the task. He hacd been bred to hate 
England, as Hannibal was taught to hate Rome. His 
father, Sir Gerard Lally, was an Irishman, who took 
up arms in behalf of James II., and when the cause 
was lost he sought refuge in France. He became an 
officer in the French army and served with credit, but 
his zeal in the service of his adopted country did not 
make him forget his loyalty to the House of Stuart. 
Amid all the fugitives who dreamed of the day when 
the king should have his own again, and when his 
followers should return in triumph to England, under 


the protection of a lawful sovereign, no one was more 
filled witli such illusions than Sir Gerard; no one 
cherished a more bitter hatred for the impious rebels 
who had made an outcast of the Lord's anointed, and 
who supported a usurper on the throne. The young 
Lally-ToUendal was brought up as the son of such a 
man would be : he learned to be brave, to hate the 
English, and always to be in the wrong. 

His military services, like those of many French 
nobles, began in childhood. At eight years of age he 
had his commission as a captain, and he accompanied 
his father in a campaign ; at twelve he mounted guard 
in the trenches before Barcelona ; while he was still 
a youth, he had shown his courage and ardor in many 
engagements. When there was no further opportunity 
for active service, Lally engaged in Jacobite plots in 
England, and afterwards he went on a secret mission 
to the Russian court, in the hope of arranging an 
alliance between France and Russia which should 
insure the restoration of the Stuarts. 

The war of the Austrian Succession enabled him to 
pursue his military career, and at the battle of Fon- 
tenoy he won great distinction ; he had the satisfaction 
of commanding a brigade of loyal Irishmen, and of 
witnessing the defeat of the followers of the House 
of Hanover ; he was wounded, he was publicly com- 
plimented for his gallantry, and he was promoted to 
the rank of brigadier-general. Such a man was sure 
to be found among the followers of Charles Edward 
in his endeavor to regain the throne of his ances- 
tors, and Lally obtained the consent of the French 
government to follow the prince, whom he still 
regarded as his sovereign. After the overthrow of 
the Pretender's fortunes, Lally tried to obtain aid for 


his unfortunate master in Ireland and in Spain ; he 
visited London, and there engaged in plots against the 
government. A price was put on his head, and he 
made his escape in the disguise of a sailor ; a party of 
smugglers captured him, and, being in need of another 
hand, they compelled him to serve with them. He 
submitted to his fate, but he disingenuously advised 
his new associates to land on the French coast, where 
he assured them they would be undisturbed and could 
reap great profits. They were all captured by the 
French authorities and thrown in prison, when Lally 
was soon identified and released. His services in the 
Stuart cause were rewarded by the shadowy honor of 
an Irish peerage conferred by the Pretender.^ 

Lally was selected for the command in India in the 
belief that his military talents and his zeal against the 
English would there find a field for their exercise. 
The choice was an unfortunate one. Lally was cer- 
tainly a good soldier, but he was a very unfit man for 
the position which he now assumed. His adventurous 
and unsatisfactory career had made him a morose and 
suspicious man ; he had no skill in dealing with subor- 
dinates, and he was profoundly ignorant of India. He 
had indeed presented his views on the policy to be 
pursued there, but they were the views of a man who 
knew nothing about the subject. " It is an absolute 
necessity," he wrote, " to renounce the system of Du- 
pleix, which was the cause of so many disasters. Our 
policy is to begin by exterminating the English in 
India ; after that, we will show a moderation in vic- 
tory which will secure the respect and love of all our 
neighbors." ^ His instructions corresponded with 

^ Mem. pour le Comte Lally, by his son. 

* His views are stated in a Memoire in the MSS. Bib. Nat. 


these views. He was bidden to relieve the company 
from all its alliances which had proved ruinous to its 
commerce ; he was authorized to withdraw the French 
troops from the Dekkan and to remove Bussy, and he 
was ordered to expel the English from the Coroman- 
del coast, that the Company of the Indies might devote 
itself to a peaceable and profitable trade, undisturbed 
by foreign rivals.^ 

Lally found the extermination of the English a 
serious enterprise; he disdained to follow Dupleix's 
example and obtain the aid of the native powers, and 
it was not strange that his efforts resulted in the final 
overthrow of the French empire in the Indies. 

The mistakes which he made as a commander were 
aggravated by the remissness of the government in 
giving him support. LaUy had been promised six 
battalions of troops and six millions of money ; when 
the time came to embark, he had to be content with 
four battalions and four millions. It was not always 
that the government furnished its generals with even 
two thirds of the troops which they were supposed to 
command. In May, 1757, Lally and his little army 
set sail for the Indies.^ The voyage was long, even 
for that period, and it was one year lacking four 
days from the time he embarked imtil he landed at 

Upon his arrival, Lally showed the vigor in which 
he was never lacking. He at once laid siege to Fort 
St. David, an enterprise which the French had often 
undertaken, and in which they had always failed. 
This time the siege was carried to a successful conclu- 

^ Instructions a Lally. 

^ A portion of his troops set sail earlier, and reached Pondi- 
cherri in September, 1757. 


sion. Lally imparted his own energy to the troops 
under his command ; he worked himself in the 
trenches, and handled a pick and a spade along with 
his men.i On June 2, 1758, Fort St. David surren- 
dered, and the fortifications were destroyed. The 
career of the new commander began auspiciously, but 
his first victory was also his last. A series of disasters 
extending over three years resulted in the destruction 
of Pondicherri, the surrender of Lally with all his 
troops, and the expulsion of the French from India. 
Many causes contributed to these disasters, but the 
character of this brave and unfortunate officer had 
much to do with the failure of his plans. If he had 
possessed the knowledge of India, the fertility of 
resource, the skill in exciting the confidence and the 
support of subordinates, which was found in Clive 
and Bussy and Dupleix, he might have accomplished 
much, even with the resources at his command. No 
sooner had Fort St. David surrendered, than Lally 
decided on a measure which did more harm to the 
cause than his victory did good. When he advised 
the authorities at Paris as to the policy to be pursued 
in a land which he had never seen, he had denounced 
any endeavors to extend the protection of France to 
the native princes. Since then he had come to India, 
but he was a man who learned little from his sur- 
roundings ; his views were as unchangeable regarding 
Indian policy as they were concerning the divine right 
of the Stuarts. In June, 1758, he sent orders to 
Bussy to withdraw his troops from the Dekkan and 
to return to Pondicherri. This command filled Bussy 
with consternation. The French general knew that 
when the Subahdar of the Dekkan was abandoned by 
1 Mem. pour Lally, i. 63. 


his present supporters, he would at once seek an alli- 
ance with the English, and the ascendency of France 
in that great country would be destroyed by the mis- 
taken judgment of a French commander. His regret 
was natural, as he saw the impending overthrow of a 
system to the establishment of which Dupleix and 
himself had devoted years of successful labor ; what 
had been gained by genius was to be frittered away by 
folly. It was with truth that he had written Argen- 
son : " I have placed kings on the throne. ... I have 
put to flight great armies, and captured cities by 
assault with a handful of men. . . . Kings, princes, 
and rajahs have made me mediator and judge of their 
disputes. ... I have made the alliance of France 
sought by. all the powers of the Mogul's empire ; our 
friendship has been purchased at the price of vast 
domains, and these advantages the company will hold 
so long as it retains the favor of the ruler of the 
Dekkan." " If we abandon that country," he added, 
" our power is gone. . . . Salabut will seek the assist- 
ance of the English and will turn against us. The 
evacuation of the Dekkan is the ruin of our Indian 
establishment." ^ Salabut was equally dismayed by 
the desertion of the allies who had protected him for 
eight years. "Your monarch has promised to pro-, 
tect me against my enemies," said the subahdar to the 
French commander. " I must have the support of a 
European power, and I must now solicit the aid of 
the English." 

It was in vain that Bussy endeavored to change 

Lally's decision. The new commander was set in his 

opinions, he was deaf to arguments, and, in addition 

to this, he was very suspicious of Bussy. Love of 

^ Bussy to Argenson, MSS. de V Arsenal. 


money was not among Lally's faults; he came to 
India with the purpose of enforcing the severest self- 
sacrifice among men who were eager to get rich, and 
he could not understand that the conditions of Indian 
society and politics made practices excusable, which in 
Europe would have been highly reprehensible. Bussy 
had gained large wealth from his position in the Dek- 
kan ; it was clear, therefore, to Lally's mind that he 
was a corrupt and a wicked man. If he argued in favor 
of the French occupation, it was because he wished to 
remain at Aurungabad, and use his power to squeeze 
lakhs of rupees out of subservient rajahs and nawabs ; 
when he talked of the advantages for France, he was 
thinking of the advantages for himseK. He was al- 
ready worth twenty million livres, said Lally, and if 
he had stayed in the Dekkan, he would have made five 
or ten millions more.^ Naturally, Bussy's arguments 
found no favor with the new commander. " It does 
not matter to me," Lally wrote him, " if a younger 
son disputes the Dekkan with his older brother, or if 
certain rajahs are quarreling about certain nawabies. 
When I have exterminated the English on the coast, I 
can arrange operations from my cabinet which will be 
more productive than those that have cost so many 
subjects to the king and so many rupees to the com- 
pany." 2 Bussy dared not take the responsibility of 
disobedience, and with a very ill grace he led away 
from Aurungabad the little army which had won so 
great victories. In the following year, Salabut made 
a treaty with the English, and agreed that French 
auxiliaries should not again be received in his domin- 

1 Mem. pour Lally, i. 28 et pas. Lally's letters are full of 
complaints against Bussy. 

2 Lally to Bussy, June 13, 1758. 


ions. The great province of the Dekkan was lost to 
France without the English having to fire a gun. 

In the mean time Lally pursued his plans for the 
expulsion of the English, the cause to which he wished 
to devote himself exclusively. He found it a task of 
some difficulty, and it became none the easier when 
he had contemptuously rejected the aid of the former 
allies of France. If the troops furnished by the na- 
tive princes were of little value, the money which 
could be obtained from them was indispensable. It 
was by means of such aid that Dupleix had been 
able to keep armies in the field, with small assistance 
from the company and no assistance from the govern- 
ment. The Company of the Indies had no resources 
with which it could prosecute war ; the general gov- 
ernment was always in financial straits, and no one 
could expect that it would furnish regular and suffi- 
cient supplies with which to carry on a contest against 
the English on the distant coast of the Coromandel ; 
the resources for war in India had to be derived from 
India itself ; without the succor of the native princes, 
said Bussy, it was impossible to provide for the needs 
of the army. 

The scanty supplies with which Lally had been fur- 
nished were soon exhausted; he had brought with him 
four million livres, and the expenses of the war were a 
million a month. Immediately after the surrender of 
Fort St. David, he was confronted with the problem 
of an empty treasury, and in this dilemma it was sug- 
gested that he might raise the needed funds by levy- 
ing contribution on the Rajah of Tan j ore. Some years 
before, that prince had executed a bond to Chun da 
Sahib for fifty-five lakhs of rupees, and this had been 
transferred to the company. The claim was stale, the 


debtor had no inclination to pay any of it, and was 
unable to pay it in full. But it was only necessary to 
threaten the rajah, said Lally's advisers, and he would 
promptly disgorge enough to support the army for a 
year. Impelled by his financial needs, Lally aban- 
doned his plans for the siege of Madras and marched 
to Tanjore. The expedition resulted in total failure. 
Lally was ignorant of the country and of its resources, 
he received few supplies from Pondicherri, and his 
soldiers suffered for the necessaries of life. He was 
unfamiliar also with the wiles of Indian politics, and 
the rajah fooled him with promises which he repudi- 
ated as soon as he was assured of English support. 
After an unsuccessful campaign of two months, Lally 
abandoned the siege of Tanjore. 

His needs were still more pressing after this unsuc- 
cessful expedition, but he resolved to delay no longer 
before attempting the siege of Madras. In this he 
was certainly right ; Madras was the most important 
English possession on the Coromandel coast ; its cap- 
ture would have gone far towards realizing his dream 
of expelling the English from the peninsula, and if 
his associates had shared the zeal of their commander, 
it would not have been impossible. 

For success he needed men and money and faithfid 
lieutenants, and he was scantily supplied with any of 
the three. It was only a sporadic exhibition of ac- 
tivity which led the home government to send Lally 
to India, and to announce its intention of restoring 
French influence in that country. Its energy was 
exhausted by the effort ; it furnished Lally with no 
further aid, and left him to carry on the war against 
the English as best he could. The expenses of the 
war in Europe, wrote the comptroller general, did not 


allow the king to furnish any further assistance to the 
East India Company, and it must now rely on its own 
resources.^ It was in vain that Lally turned to the 
company for aid, after the government had formally 
notified him of its desertion. " For two years," said 
the authorities of Pondicherri, " we have been using 
every expedient to maintain ourselves. . . . We have 
exhausted all our resources, we are absolutely power- 
less and can do nothing to help you." ^ Even the 
forces, which might have been utilized for the vv^ar in 
India, were paralyzed by a vicious system. The fleet 
sent out under Ache was hardly inferior to that of the 
English ; its assistance was indispensable for Lally's 
success, but he was unable to obtain it. The govern- 
ment had given the absolute command of the squadron 
to Ache ; if he saw fit to assist Lally, he could do so ; 
if he was unwilling, the commander of the land forces 
had no right to control his action. But the naval 
commander was one of the inefficient marine officers 
who insured the victory of the English on the sea, 
from the Gulf of the St. Lawrence to the coast of 
Coromandel ; if he had surrendered his ships to the 
enemy, he could hardly have done more harm than 
was caused by his remissness and timidity. The co- 
operation of the fleet was necessary for the capture 
of Madras, and Ache refused to cooperate. He had 
already encountered the English squadron, and al- 
though the one side had sujffered almost as much as 
the other, he was discouraged by the results and 
resolved to return forthwith to the Isle of France. It 
was in vain that Lally remonstrated ; Ache sailed 
away and left the English in peaceable possession of 

^ Boulongne to Lally, February 6, 1758. 

2 Letters of October 8, 1758 ; March 3, 1759. 


the Indian seas. Not disheartened by all these obsta- 
cles, in December, 1758, Lally laid siege to Madras ; 
he captured the " black town,'* and if the garrison 
had received no reinforcements, the city might at last 
have been forced to surrender. On the 16th of Feb- 
ruary, 1759, ships were seen approaching in the dis- 
tance. It was uncertain whether they were French 
or English, though one who knew the characters of 
the commanders might have been sure which would 
come at the hour of need. The vessels of Admiral 
Pococke sailed up to the town, and on the following 
day the siege was raised.^ 

So bitter was the hatred towards Lally among the 
French residents that his repulse excited exultation 
rather than regret. Lally had come to India resolved 
to check the corruption which was prevalent, and he 
made such efforts as he could to accomplish this end. 
The French in India, like the English, sought some 
compensation for residence in a distant land, and they 
accumulated fortunes by any means in their power. 
The evil was a serious one, but it was a necessary 
result of the manner in which both of the East India 
companies were then administered. It needed the 
strong hand of Clive, at a time when India was at 
peace, and with all the prestige of his success, to 
reform the administration of the English Company. 
When war was waging, and every effort was needed 
to resist a powerful enemy, it was an unfortunate time 
for LaUy to attempt such reforms. Besides this he 
had not the prestige of success ; he was proving him- 
self an unfortunate instead of a victorious leader, and 
even if he was not responsible for these defeats, he 
had to bear the blame. He was, moreover, lacking in 
1 Journal of siege, by John Call, engineer-in-chief. 


the ability to gain friends, and was successful only 
in exciting animosities, and he poured out his com- 
plaints in a way that increased the ill will of the 
community in which he was thrown. " I had rather 
command the Caffres of Madagascar," he said, " than 
to remain in that Sodom of Pondicherri ; if the fire 
of heaven does not destroy it, that of the English 
soon will." ^ " I want to leave Asia," he wrote Bussy, 
" even if I could stay here and conquer the terrestrial 
paradise." ^ 

Though Lally's purposes were always commenda- 
ble, bis conduct was often injudicious. During the 
siege of Fort St. David, he asked the authorities to 
furnish means of transportation, and they were slow 
in responding. In a rage, he went to Pondicherri, 
and made a forced requisition of laborers, without 
regard to class or position. Sudra and pariah, priest 
and Brahmin, were harnessed to the cannon side by 
side. Such an act was revolting to the caste feelings, 
that were strong in India : it was as offensive to popu- 
lar prejudices as if the governor of Paris had ordered 
dukes to be yoked with the hangman and set at work 
tearing down Notre Dame.^ Lally became odious to 
the native population, as he already was to the Euro- 
peans. He mistrusted all his officers, and Bussy, the 
most prominent of them, whom he had always disliked, 
he now abhorred. "He is the falsest of men, the 
greatest liar, the greatest pillager, of whom you have 
ever heard," he wrote. " Of all the malefactors con- 
demned to be broken on the wheel during a hundred 
years, there is not one whose crimes approach those of 

^ See Mem. pour Lally, ii. 86. 

2 Lally to Bussy, April 28, 1759. 

^ Kemark cited in Hamont, La Jin d^un empire^ 86, 7. 


Bussy." ^ Lally was never reticent, and the complaints 
in whicli he indulged were bruited abroad in the com- 
munity. Naturally, Bussy did not show himself a 
zealous lieutenant of a general who held this opinion 
of him ; like most of his associates, he continued to 
serve with a haK-concealed desire for the defeat of a 
commander whom no one loved. 

The common soldiers had still more substantial 
grounds for discontent, for which Lally was in no 
way responsible. He had neither money to pay them 
nor sufficient food to give them ; as a result there were 
frequent mutinies, and some of the men deserted to 
the English. In the service of England, they said, 
they were sure of food and of their wages, and they 
were unwilling longer to go hungry for the cause of 
France. In 1759, the soldiers, so their officers re- 
ported, had neither shirts, nor shoes, nor stockings, 
nor provisions, and this was the chronic condition of 
the French army during the last two years of the 
struggle with England for the possession of India.^ 

Ache's refusal to let the fleet assist in the siege 
of Madras was followed by an almost total deser- 
tion of the French interests in India. In Septem- 
ber, 1759, nearly thirteen months after he had sailed 
away from Pondicherri, his fleet reappeared on the 
Coromandel coast. It brought some insignificant 
reinforcements, a little money, and a few soldiers. 
Having done this. Ache regarded his duties as ful- 
filled. He had eleven vessels under his command and 
over seven thousand men ; it was the most formida- 
ble squadron that had been seen in the Indian seas. 
He encountered the English fleet, but was unsuccess- 
ful, though superior in ships and cannon. Although 
1 Lally to Silhouette. 2 Mem. pour Lally, i. 172. 


defeated, he had suffered no loss which compelled him 
to abandon India to the enemy, but it was enough to 
discourage so faint-hearted a commander. No sooner 
had he anchored at Pondicherri, than he wrote Lally 
that he could only remain two days. " I must even 
sacrifice the pleasure I should have in meeting you," 
he added.i The desertion of the fleet left Pondicherri 
in danger of capture, and the officials of the company 
joined with Lally in a protest against such conduct. 
" We protest against your departure," their official 
resolution read, " and we declare you responsible for 
the loss of this colony. We will send our complaints 
to the king and demand justice." ^ But nothing could 
affect Ache. " I have been beaten, gentlemen," he 
answered the deputation, " and I shall leave." ^ He 
was also afraid of the monsoon, that terror of timid sail- 
ors, and he dared not encounter the autumnal storms 
on this coast. He did indeed promise that he would 
return, and that he would never abandon Pondicherri,* 
but the promise was not kept. During the sixteen 
months that elapsed before Pondicherri surrendered 
to the English, the French fleet never reappeared ; in 
twenty-nine months, it spent twelve days on the Coro- 
mandel coast, where alone it could be of any service.^ 
The superiority of the English fleets, not in numbers, 
but in the ability and courage with which they were 
commanded, was an important factor in securing the 
victory of England in India. As Lally bitterly said, 
" The English know no seasons in India ; their fleet 

1 Achd to Lally, September 5, 1759. 

2 Protestation de Septembre 17, 1759. 
8 Mem. pour Lally, i. 180. 

^ Letter of October 1, 1759. 
^ Mem. pour Lally ^ i. 185. 


blockaded Pondicherri in winter as well as in summer." 
For three years the English squadron never left the 
coast, but during all the years of war between France 
and England, the French did not have a naval com- 
mander who possessed courage enough to spend the 
autiunn and winter in the Indian seas.^ It was not 
that they were afraid of their persons, but they were 
afraid of their ships ; in the courage which came from 
experience on the sea, and confidence in their ability 
to manoeuvre a fleet, they were as a rule far inferior to 
the English commanders. Ache was a courageous man 
in battle, but a coward in exposing his fleet to the risk 
of battle. It could be said of him, as of a far better offi- 
cer, he was brave in his heart and a coward in his head. 
The fleet deserted the cause, the soldiers were ill 
paid and mutinous, and the position of the French, 
grew steadily worse. On January 22, 1760, the de- 
cisive battle was fought at Wandewash. LaUy had 
about fourteen hundred Europeans under his com- 
mand ; the English, under Colonel Coote, were about 
nineteen hundred strong, and they had some advan- 
tage in the number of their native auxiliaries.^ The 
forces were insignificant compared with those which 
met on the battlefields of Europe, but the issues were 
momentous. A decis-ive victory might have secured 
French ascendency, a disastrous defeat was sure to end 

^ Cause de la perte des Indes, 13 ; Copie des lettres par le 
Comte d^A che, 31. An interesting account of the naval contest 
between the French and English in the Indian seas is found in 
Mahan's valuable book, Influence of the Sea Power in History. 
The Memoire pour Ache and his correspondence furnish no satis- 
factory explanation of his shameful conduct. 

2 There is much dispute as to the numbers engaged, but those 
stated are probably approximately right, and are those adopted by 
Colonel Malleson in his French in India. 


their efforts to hold India against the English, the 
destiny of a great country was involved in the contest 
of a few thousand men. 

The battle was stubbornly contested, and Lally, as 
always, was brave, unfortunate, and ill served. He 
led the charge of the cavalry in person, but the men 
were so ill affected that only after much delay would 
they follow their general. The explosion of a tumbril 
killed and wounded eighty of Lally's men, and threw 
the others into confusion. At last the victory of the 
English was complete, and it was decisive. Arcot, 
Karical, and other places held by the French were 
reduced one after another ; in September, Coote laid 
siege to Pondicherri, and it was blockaded by land 
and sea. The dissensions among the French became 
more bitter as their condition grew worse. The ene- 
mies of Lally charged him with being a traitor, and 
said that he wanted to sell the city to the English. 
In return he erected gibbets about the town, on which 
he declared he would hang those who disobeyed his 
orders and fomented disturbance. Even if the gar- 
rison had been zealous, instead of discordant, the fall 
of the town was certain unless Ache's fleet came to its 
relief. But Ache remained quietly at the Isle of 
France, and after four months of siege, starvation 
compelled Pondicherri to yield. The inhabitants had 
eaten the horses and camels, the dogs and the rats, 
before Lally would consent to yield. Four ounces of 
rice and two of bad flour were the daily allowance for 
a soldier, and rats were selling at twenty-four francs 
apiece, when on the 16th of January, 1761, Pondi- 
cherri surrendered to the English.^ Lally and eleven 

^ Mem. pour Lally, i. 279. For the siege of Pondicherri, and 
the battle of Wandewash, see also the Journal of Lawrence and 


hundred soldiers, the remains of the French army in 
India, became prisoners of war, and Pondicherri was 
razed to the ground. 

The destruction of Pondicherri marked the end of 
the power of France in the East Indies ; the scatter- 
ing possessions which the French still held were cap- 
tured without difficulty; the French and not the 
English, to use Lally's phrase, were exterminated 
from the Coromandel coast. By the treaty of Paris, 
Pondicherri, Chandarnagar, and some other ports were 
restored to France, and they are still French posses- 
sions. But they have remained places of little impor- 
tance, doing a small trade, contributing little to the 
wealth of France, and exercising no influence on the 
development of India. Since 1761, France cannot be 
called even the rival of England in the East Indies. 

It is not without a certain satisfaction that we read 
of the final extinction of the French Company of the 
East Indies, whose affairs had been conducted with 
such short-sighted greed, and which, as Voltaire said, 
had carried on war and commerce with equal folly. 
Its Indian trade was annihilated by the war, and it 
did not again become important after the treaty of 
Paris. The profits of the tobacco monopoly, which 
it had obtained in the days of Law, enabled it to 
struggle on for a few years, but it could not continue 
to carry on business unless it received important as- 
sistance from the government, and the government 
decided that nothing in the experience of the past 
justified it in furnishing further aid to a bankrupt 
and mismanaged corporation. In 1769, the trade 
with the posts then held by France in India was 
thrown open to all citizens, and soon after the Com- 
pany of the East Indies, an enterprise devised by 


Richelieu and organized by Colbert, which had re- 
ceived the patronage of Louis XIV., and been part 
of Law's scheme for revolutionizing the trade of the 
world, ceased to exist.^ 

The last years of French occupation in India were 
inglorious for the nation and discreditable to the gov- 
ernment ; they furnished the occasion, also, for a 
judicial murder, which is a reproach to French juris- 
prudence. Lally's administration was unfortunate, 
and his conduct not free from blame. If his mistakes 
had cost him the favor of the court, if his hopes of a 
marshal's baton had been disappointed, he would have 
had no cause for complaint. Other French generals 
had indeed made far more serious mistakes than any 
of which Lally was guilty, and they stiU enjoyed aU 
the honors that the crown could bestow. The Duke 
of Richelieu should have been court-martialed: he 
was rewarded with an important government and the 
lifelong favor of the king. Soubise subjected the 
French to one of the most disgraceful defeats in their 
history, yet Mme. de Pompadour secured him a place 
in the ministry and a pension of fifty thousand francs 
as a compensation for incapacity. But continued de- 
feats both in the East and the West had irritated 
the public, and a victim was demanded. India had 
been lost as the result of negligence and bad judg- 
ment extending over many years ; if the punishment 
had been properly awarded, it would have been vis- 
ited upon an administration which had been indif- 
ferent to the national honor and the national pros- 
perity. But Lally was the commander when Pon- 
dicherri surrendered, and the French ofiicials united 
in holding him responsible for all the misfortunes 
1 Edicts, August, 1769, February, 1775. 


that had befallen the colony. The unfortunate general 
was released on his parole and returned to France, 
and on his arrival he was greeted by a formidable 
outcry. Friends advised him to fly before an irri- 
tated popular sentiment, but he said that any inves- 
tigation must result in vindicating his honor, and he 
faced his enemies with his wonted courage. 

He was thrown into the Bastille, and five years 
elapsed before judgment was rendered in his case. 
Innumerable charges were brought against him, and 
they ranged in gravity from betraying Pondicherri to 
using bad language. The course of the prosecution 
showed how the rules of French jurisprudence might 
result in gross injustice. If the common law some- 
times excludes evidence that might properly influence 
an intelligent mind, the laxity of the French court 
led to a worse failure of justice. A Jesuit priest, 
called Father Lavaur, had been an active intriguer 
in Indian politics. He had kept, as was said, two 
diaries, one favorable to Lally and the other accusing 
him of every crime. The priest died, and the diary 
hostile to Lally was received in evidence as proof of 
the facts which it alleged, and it was the document 
which had most weight with the judges.^ Other tes- 
timony, by which an officer was to be convicted of 
high treason, was of a similar nature. One witness 
testified that it was a matter of public notoriety at 
Pondicherri that Lally had ordered two bastions to 
be blown up, and that his engineer had refused to 
obey such a command. Another said he had been 
told by many parties that Lally sold the stores of 
the garrison for his own benefit.*-^ In truth, the 

^ Mem. pour Lally. 
2 lb., ii. 205, 6. 


charges of treason and corruption were absurd, and 
were not supported by a grain of credible evidence. 
Lally had devoted himseK to the service of France in 
India with the bravery and the seK-sacrifice that he 
had always shown in a military career extending over 
fifty years ; if he had made mistakes as a commander, 
it was for a court-martial of officers to consider them. 
Instead of that, judges of the Parliament, who hardly 
knew a culverin from a carabine, investigated Lally's 
conduct as a soldier ; they assumed to decide whether 
he had placed his cannon judiciously at the siege of 
Madras, or manoeuvred his troops properly at the bat- 
tle of Wandewash. 

Three years were occupied in these investigations, 
and the judges still hesitated as to their verdict. But 
popular clamor decided Lally's fate ; he was at last 
found guilty of exactions, of abuse of authority, and 
of having betrayed the interests of the king, and he 
was condemned to death. 

It was with amazement that an officer who had ex- 
posed his life on fifty battlefields received a sentence 
which condemned him for having betrayed the inter- 
ests of his country. Louis XV. was asked to remit 
the sentence, and there was never a more proper occa- 
sion for royal clemency. During all his life, the king 
had shown himself indifferent to the corruption of 
officials and the inefficiency of generals, but on this 
occasion he resolved to show a Spartan sternness. The 
rigor with which the English had treated Admiral 
Byng probably influenced his conduct, and having 
been lenient to gross offenders, he was now inexorable 
towards a man who had been unfortunate.^ 

^ It was said that Louis regarded the sentence of Lally as 
unjust, but was told that he must show no leniency. If so, it 


The injustice of Lally's sentence was aggravated by 
the brutality with which he was treated. He was not 
even allowed the punishment of an officer and a gen- 
tleman ; the cross of the order of St. Louis was torn 
from his breast, he was insulted by brutal jailers, a 
gag was put in his mouth as was done with the lowest 
offenders, he was placed on a cart like a common 
malefactor, and was thus taken to the Place de la 
Gr^ve, where a clumsy executioner struck off his head 
after many blows.^ So ignominious a fate for a gal- 
lant officer excited no popular sympathy. " Lally died 
like a madman," wrote Mme. du Deffand. " The peo- 
ple were pleased with all that made his punishment 
ignominious: the cart, the handcuffs, and the gag. 
... He was a great rascal," she added, " and besides 
he was very disagreeable." ^ 

Years afterward, under the reign of Louis XVI., 
an effort was made to annul this iniquitous sentence. 
Lally's son, Lally Tollendal, himself destined to a 
long and honorable career in the service of humanity, 
of literature, and of liberal government, applied to the 
royal council to annul a decree which was a reproach 
to the administration of the law. Voltaire lent the 
aid of a pen, which was so often employed in the cause 
of righting the wrong and of relieving the oppressed. 
These efforts were successful. In 1778, by a unani- 
mous vote, the unjust decree of 1766 was set aside 
and annulled ; but this tardy vindication came too 
late to benefit the unfortunate victim of a judicial 

was another occasion when the king allowed his natural good 
judgment to be overruled by bad advice. 

1 Lally was executed May 9, 1766. 

2 Mme. du Deffand to Walpole. 



/ "During the nineteen years of my reign," Mme. de 
/ Pompadour once said, " the expenses of my table were 
three and a half million livres." Even if the word 
was used by inadvertence, there was a long period in 
which one could justly say that Mme. de Pompadour 
reigned in France ; she controlled the conduct of the 
king, she dictated the choice of ministers, she decided 
the policy of the state. It was in the years of peace 
following the close of the war of the Austrian Suc- 
cession that the power and glory of the favorite were 
at their height ; it was at this time that she ceased 
to be the king's mistress to become his confidential 
adviser, his prime minister without the title, and that 
I she exercised her greatest influence on the sovereign 
^ "^and on society. 

If her position seemed a brilliant one to those who 
saw in her the arbiter of fashion and of the policy of 
the government, no ambitious statesman found his 
place more full of care and anxiety than this beauti- 
ful and frivolous woman. At the beginning, Louis 
had been attracted by the beauty of the young bour- 
geoise, but his affections were never strong ; only by 
I constantly amusing the king could the favorite retain 
/ her influence, and Louis XV. was one of the hardest 
I men in the world to amuse. During aU his life, he 
I probably suffered more from ennui than any other 
Vnan in Europe. The explanation was simple, and 


was found in the indolence and selfishness of his char- 
acter ; his defects brought their own punishment ; he 
was interested in nothing and he cared for no one, 
and, therefore, he was bored by everything and every- 

Mme. de Chateauroux sought to induce him to play 
some part in life ; she incited him to lead his army, to 
be a man among men. Her successor, with better 
judgment, made no such demands on the king ; she 
knew that, sooner or later, any exertion would annoy 
him, and she decided, more wisely for her own inter- 
ests, to devote her energies to keeping the sovereign 
amused. For such an effort she had uncommon re- 
sources ; with natural taste, some talent, and an ac- 
tive mind, Mme. de Pompadour not only beguiled 
the weary hours of a bored king, but she exercised 
on many of the arts an influence not undeserving of 

For the stage the favorite had alike inclination and 
j^alent, and by her skill as an actress she had excited 
/the admiration of poets and farmers-general, before 
I she was admitted to the society of princes and dukes. 
She now resolved to organize a theatre which might 
help to amuse a king weary of life, and which would 
furnish an opportunity for displaying her own charms 
in her new surroundings. In 1747, her theatre opened 
its doors with a representation of Tartuffe, and during 
the six years of its existence it was an object of more 

(interest to the king and the court than the condition 
of the French marine or the growth of the French 

! colonies. 
I At first the room was so small that it would not 

eat an audience of over forty, and the most illustri- 
ous personages often asked in vain for admission. 


/Afterwards the theatre was enlarged so as to accom- 
Imodate more spectators, but the opportunity of wit- 
Inessing a representation was always much sought for. 
I K it was an honor to be allowed to witness the per- 
[formance, it was a still greater distinction to take part 
■in it. This privilege, however, the manager wisely 
j accorded only to merit ; the actors were indeed persons 
! of the highest rank : the dukes of Nivernais and Ayen 
and Valliere, the Duchess of Brancas, the Countess 
;,of Pons, were among the stars of the troupe, but to 
become a member it was necessary to have talent as 
jwell as pedigree. Even the parts of the supernumer- 
aries were in great demand, and as these personages 
had nothing to do, claims other than artistic merit 
were recognized. A cabinet minister promised the 
position of lieutenant to a relative of the favorite's 
femme de chambre if she could obtain for his son the 
role of the police officer in a representation of Tartuffe. 
As the officer had only a few lines to recite, Mme. de 
Pompadour was willing to please her attendant ; the 
minister's son was more profuse in his gratitude than 
if he had been made a duke, and the needy relative at 
once received his promotion.^ 

There was plenty of histrionic talent to be found at 
Versailles, and the career of a courtier was a good 
training for the stage ; he who all his life played a 
part at Versailles could easily play a part for an hour 
at Mme. de Pompadour's theatre, and the troupe of 
the " Petits Cabinets " was by no means to be despised 

* Mine, du Hausset conducted this intrigue for one of her 
relatives, and has given an account of it in her memoirs. The 
Marquis of Voyer, son of the Count of Argenson, was the per- 
son who thus procured the privilege of appearing in Mme. de 
Pompadour's theatre. 


even by professionals. Among them all the favorite 
was preeminent. She had unusual talent as an ac- 
tress, and in many roles could have acquitted herself 
creditably at the Fran^ais ; she had also a pleasant 
voice, and sang agreeably in the light operas that were 
often performed ; in every play she was sure to have 
the leading part, and she deserved it. She was Urania 
'land Venus and Galatea ; she was a ravishing Colette, 
la delightful Constance, a pleasing Lucile; she de- 
lighted the audience by the perfection with which she 
tendered the part of an artless and innocent country 

tiaiden ; she did well even in the role of a vestal 
irgin. Her dresses were always an artistic triumph, 
land so was her acting; she had good taste, and she 
yhad the treasury of France with which to gratify it ; 
las Venus she appeared in a daazling combination of 
blue and silver, a dress worthy of the gods. The 
king sat in the front row ; at his right was the queen, 
^ho watched her victorious rival with her usual ainia- 
pility ; the queen was arrayed in a dingy toilette, which 
inade her look old and even less attractive than she 
was by nature ; the contrast between virtue and vice 
|vas all in favor of the latter. " You are the most 
charming woman in France," said the king to the 

evorite at the close of one of these performances, and 
she undoubtedly was. 

Mme. de Pompadour could act and sing and dance 
with equal skill, and she did her utmost to excite the 
! admiration of an audience more illustrious than gath- 
ered at any other theatre, and to amuse the bored 
man for whom all her arts were displayed. "The 
mistress of the king has become a dancer and a 
leaper," said indignant pamphleteers ; " she is a mod- 
ern Herodias ; " but the voice of such protests did 



not disturb the audience at the theatre of the " Petits 
Cabinets." ^ 

Mme. de Pompadour won her greatest triumphs on 
the stage, but she interested herself in other fields, 
i She was sincerely fond of art ; if her taste was not 
severe, it was better than that of most of her con- 
temporaries ; whoever had a fine jewel, a choice en- 
graving, a magnificent watch, presented it to the 
, critical judgment of the favorite ; on all these things 
I she could discourse, not profoundly, but easily and 
i! agreeably .2 The manufacture of porcelain at Sevres 
y(was begun during the reign of the marquise, and her 
/ patronage and advice did much to assist in its devel- 
I opment. Artistic objects of every kind attracted her 
interest ; from the list of her purchases, the statues 
and bronzes and vases, the glass and the porcelain, 
the costly paintings, the rare books, the ornaments 
and decorations of every sort, that adorned her many 
chateaux and hermitages and hotels, one could almost 
write a history of the French art of the period.^ 

Not only did she buy the work of others, but she 
was herself an artist of respectable merit. She worked 
assiduously at engraving, and in the catalogue of her 
productions we find Louis XV. engraved in onyx 
and represented as a Roman emperor ; Louis XV. in 
coralline as the God of the Arts ; Louis XV. in sar- 
doin as Hercules, for whose favor Peace and Victory 

^ Full accounts of the plays represented at the theatre of the 
" Petits Cabinets " are given by the Duke of Luynes. Luynes 
belonged to the faction of the queen, but he admits the talents 
of Mme. de Pompadour as an actress. See, also, Julien, Theatre 
de Mme. de Pompadour. 

2 Mem. de Chevemy, 169. 

^ A list of these cau be found in Liwe Journal of Lazare 
Duvaux, marchand bijoutier ordinaire du roy. 


strive; France and Austria treading discord under 
foot and joining hands at the altar of fidelity, and 
many other works, all inscribed " Pompadour Sculp." ^ 
Perhaps the touch of some other artist at times per- 
fected the work of the favorite, but unlike the poor 
queen, who bungled whatever she undertook, the mar- 
quise was sure to acquit herself creditably whether she 
was acting Venus at the " Petits Cabinets " or deline- 
ating the heroic features of Louis XV. with her burin. 
1^ As she was interested in all the decorative arts, so 
in most of them she set the fashion for others. For 
few persons have such a prodigious number of things 
been named : there were Pompadour carriages and 
sofas and fans; Pompadour chairs and mirrors and 
chimney-places ; there were even Pompadour tooth- 
picks ; there are still toilettes and headdresses, porce- 
lain and roses, " a la Pompadour." The taste of her 
age was not pure, but of it she was the best inter- 
preter ; the intricate ornaments, the elaborate decora- 
tions, the powdered locks and painted cheeks, were 
\ all in keeping with this queen of rococo. 

Her beauty needed no disguising, but in that age 
, nature was not deemed charming unless it was aided 
i by art. Two million pots of paint, it was estimated, 
! were required each year to brighten the cheeks of 
1 French women ; not only ladies of the court and of 
the demimonde, but wives of staid judges and of plain 
opkeepers, made use of it to add to their charms.^ 
The few who sought to eschew it were regarded at 
ersailles as innovators more hardy than the Encyclo- 
aedists ; cheeks without paint seemed as strange as 

^ Documents in^dits de Guay, et notes sur les ceuvres de la 
marquise de Pompadour. 

2 Mercier, Tableau de Paris, vs... Brochure of Chev. d'Elbee. 


/heads without powder. Marie Leszczynski, reared in 
seclusion and the strictest piety, looked with horror, 
j on her first arrival at court, upon the painted cheeks 
I which to her unsophisticated mind savored of exces- 
f sive worldliness if not of vice, but the queen of France 
had to yield obedience to the laws of fashion. At 
Rome, paint was forbidden to the ladies who were 
presented to the Pope, and when the Duchess of Ni- 
vernais, the wife of the French ambassador, returned 
from there, she announced her resolution to follow the 
pious regulations of the papacy and eschew the paint- 
pot. If she had announced her determination to 
appear at Versailles in the dress now adopted by 
members of the Salvation Army and to rebuke Louis 
XV. for his sins, she would have caused no more 
excitement. The matter assumed the importance of 
a question of state. Her husband was still at Rome, 
and letters from dukes and marquises, from Duras, 
Mirabeau, and others, were hastily dispatched to pre- 
vent so rash a step. It was not left for the women to 
debate the question ; it was of sufficient importance to 
demand the attention of the men. " I cannot think 
there is any just ground for slighting the usage," 
wrote one ; " we are all extremely grieved." Her mo- 
ther hastened to meet the duchess, carrying a paint-pot 
and exhorting her to use it. Mme. de Nivernais was 
firm, but her husband saw the question of rouge was 
not one to be trifled with ; a special messenger rode in 
hot haste from Rome with a letter in which the duchess 
was admonished to follow the counsels of her friends, 
and she yielded.^ The world of Versailles was a 
painted world, and Mme. de Pompadour was its queen. 

1 Some of these letters are published in Perey's Un petit neveu 
de Mazarin. 


f Unfortunately there were darker sides to the char- 
acter of the woman who so long charmed Louis XV. 
/Never even in French history did a royal favorite con- 
j sume such prodigious sums of money ; statisticians 
I have calculated what it cost to support the splendor 
I and to gratify the whims of Mme. de Pompadour; 
their estimates do not seem exaggerated, and they are 
in large part confirmed by the figures which she her- 
self furnished. During the nineteen years of what 
^ she called her reign, the favorite received from the 
\ French treasury thirty-six million livres. This was 
1 almost at the rate of two million livres a year, and 
\ was one twelfth of the entire revenues of Prussia at 
: the time that Frederick II. succeeded to the throne. 
Considering the relative value of money, two million 
dollars in our days, annually during almost twenty 
years, would not be greatly in excess of the amount 
spent by the king's mistress.^ 

This great sum was not all spent in ordinary ex- 
penditures nor in amusements. The marquise esti- 
mated the cost of voyages and fetes during the period 
of her favor at four millions, of her kitchen at three 
and a half millions, and of servants' wages at a little 
over one million. But she had a taste for lands and 
chateaux, and this absorbed larger sums than all her 
/ other pomp and extravagance. Near Dreux she had 
1' a chateau with magnificent grounds ; at Meudon was 
' the charming chateau of Belle Vue, where for many 
years the representations of her theatre were held, and 
in a little depend ance of which the treaty of alliance 
between France and Austria was agreed upon ; she 
had so-called hermitages near Versailles and Fontaine- 
bleau and Compiegne, in order that the king might 
^ Relive des depenses de Mme. de Pompadour, Le Roi. 


enjoy the luxury of occasionally stopping at a modest 
4^untry place instead of an enormous palace. In 
■ Paris, Louis's liberality obtained for his favorite what 
Iwas then known as the Hotel d'Evreux and is now 
jjthe Elysde, the official residence of the President of 
rthe French republic. 

Mme. de Pompadour did more harm to the cause of 
royalty in France than spending money on palaces and 
fetes. Notwithstanding the apparent splendor of her 
life, the triumphs of her theatre, and the beauties of 
her chateaux, this frivolous woman led as anxious and 
agitated an existence as Richelieu or Mazarin ; quite 
as much as those statesmen, she was in constant fear 
of losing favor, and she was continually watching lest 
some successful rival should obtain the king's confi- 
dence and cause her overthrow. " My life is like that 
of the Christian," said the marquise, choosing a curi- 
ous simile ; " it is a perpetual contest." 

It was the fear of her own overthrow that accounted 

for the most shameful things in Mme. de Pompadour's 

jcareer. As she grew older, she became infirm in 

I health, and she realized how slight was her hold on a 

I fickle character like Louis XV. " If the king found 

\ some one else with whom he could talk about his hunt- 

i ing and his affairs," she said, " at the end of three 

days he would not know the difference if I were gone." 

She knew the king too well to believe that he would 

ever lead a reputable life, and to avoid the danger of 

a rival who might push her from her place, she was 

jiglad if his attention could be occupied by low-born 

and ignorant girls from whom she had nothing to 

fear. The amount of money spent in the support of 

the pare aux cerfs^ and the number of sultanas whom 

it sheltered, have been gi-ossly exaggerated, but the 


/ignominy of such practices remains the same. The 
/ so-called pare aux cerfs was a small house in a back 
I street in Versailles, in the quarter once used as a 
I deer park. It had but few occupants, and in 1771 
^ it was sold. But during a number of years the king, 
now becoming an old man, had a succession of mis- 
tresses, mostly young girls of low birth and poor 
education, for whom this house furnished an asylum. 
They received no recognition at court ; if they had 
children, the parentage was not acknowledged, and 
after a while they were retired on meagre pensions, 
which were, however, sufficient to secure a husband 
in the provinces.^ Nothing could have been more 
squalid, more vulgar, or more low ; to such a grovel- 
ing depth of nastiness had the Lord's anointed sunk. 

If such practices secured Mme. de Pompadour's con- 
tinuance in power, they increased the hatred with 
which she had long been regarded, and involved the 
king in such contempt as had never been felt for a 
French monarch; by an unusual combination, wrote 
Chesterfield, Louis XV. was both hated and despised. 
Whatever were the means by which Mme. de Pom- 
padour retained her hold, for more than ten years 
following the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle she filled the 
place of prime minister in the infirm government of 
Louis XV. Her activity was prodigious ; she labored 
as assiduously as any hard-working secretary. " It is 
now late," she tells her father, " and I have still sixty 
letters to write." ^ For the most part the favorite 
did not concern herself with the details of administra- 
tion ; she exerted indeed a considerable influence upon 
the great question of the Austrian alliance, but as a 

^ Mem. de Hausset, 77-91. 

^ Correspondance de Mme. de Pompadour avec son pere. 


general rule her conception of government was that 
of many a modern politician ; the important question 
was who should get the offices. In this respect her 
policy was a simple one : she wished all places of 
importance filled by her friends ; of their capacity 
she was not able to judge, nor did she trouble herself 
with the question. 

The changes in the ministry under Mme. de Pom- 
padour were likened to the transformation scenes of 
a theatre ; ministers were disgraced or were trans- 
ferred from one bureau to another with startling 
rapidity. In 1749, Maurepas was removed from the 
ministry of the marine, which he had filled for thirty 
years, because he wrote some offensive verses about 
the favorite. Certainly they were vulgar verses for 
a gentleman to write, but well-bred people then said 
things which are not now allowed in polite society. 
At all events, they did not affect his ability to per- 
form his duties, but they cost him his position. 
Machault, who was one of the favorite's proteges, 
was first made comptroller general, and then trans- 
ferred to the marine, and a few years later disgraced 
because he had become lukewarm in the cause of 
his patroness. Bernis was made minister of foreign 
affairs in 1757 because he enjoyed the confidence of 
Mme. de Pompadour; he was removed a year later 
for advising a policy of which she disapproved. The 
Count of Argenson, who had been minister of war for 
fourteen years, and was one of the ablest of the king's 
advisers, was disgraced at the beginning of the Seven 
Years' war because he persistently refused the favor- 
ite's overtures. The list could be made longer, but 
the fate of obscure holders of important offices is not 
worth following. 


Before the close of the Seven Years' war, the part 
taken by Mine, de Pompadour in public affairs became 
less active than it once had been. Though Choiseul 
entered the king's councils as her friend, he was a 
man of imperious temperament, and he soon occupied 
a different position from the ministers she had so 
easily elevated or overthrown. Moreover, her health 
was failing, and her aspirations were disappointed. 
Frivolous as she was in character, yet she had cher- 
ished an ambition for political fame ; if she could not 
be a successor to Richelieu, at least she had hoped 
to hold a place in the affections of the French people 
like that of Agnes Sorel. These hopes had been 
blighted; she had found by bitter experience that 
forming political combinations and carrying on wars 
was more serious business than playing in the theatre 
of the "Petits Cabinets." The Austrian alliance 
proved a disappointment, the war against Frederick 
ended in defeat and disgrace, and for the humilia- 
tions which the nation suffered it vented its anger 
upon the favorite. She was held responsible for the 
choice of incompetent generals, for disorders in the 
finances, and for the condition of vulgar vice and 
apathetic indifference into which the king was sunk, 
and to a large extent she was responsible. 

It is the lot of those in power to receive threaten- 
ing letters, and during the series of disasters which 
began at Rossbach, Mme. de Pompadour's mail became 
disagreeable. Each day she received anonymous let- 
ters charging her with every crime, and invoking 
upon her every punishment. The mortification of 
defeat distressed her more than threats of violence ; 
she could get no sleep except by the use of drugs ; she 
was plunged into a despair that was not altogether 


ignoble. " The disease of which I shall die," she said 
one day, " will be chagrin." ^ Not alone the loss of 
her beauty, and anxiety lest some rival should gain 
her place, helped to ruin the favorite's health and 
bring her to an early grave ; mortification at the dis- 
grace in which she had involved France, humiliation 
that her name should be identified with defeat and 
disaster, instead of with glory and victory, had their 
part in the melancholy of her later years and hastened 
her end. 

The years which followed the peace of Aix-la-Cha- 
pelle were filled with literary activity and social change, 
but politically they were not important. The begin- 
nings of the contest between England and France 
belong properly to the Seven Years' war, which grew 
out of them ; the efforts of Maria Theresa to form an 
alliance with the Bourbons only became important 
when the conduct of Frederick a few years later in- 
sured their success. Changes in public feeling, under 
the influence of free discussion and of a literature 
trammeled only in form, were 'indeed going on with 
rapidity during all the latter years of Louis XV. 's 
reign, but they did not as yet affect the administra- 
tion of the government. Almost the only political 
measures that have any permanent interest are the 
attempts made to subject church property to taxation. 

If the Revolution found the French political system 
little changed from what it had been a century before, 
it was not because there was a lack of attempts at 
amendment, but their history is almost a uniform 
record of failure. So important was the influence of 
the church in the French social system, that it may be 
well to follow with some detail the endeavors made 
1 Mem. de Mme. du Hausset, 124, 149, etc. 


to deprive it of some privileges which it had long 
enjoyed, and to consider the character of the clergy 
by whom those efforts were successfully resisted. 

Peace is usually welcome, but the peace which 
closed the war of the Austrian Succession was unpop- 
ular in France. The events of the war had on the 
whole been favorable. Fontenoy and Lawfeldt were 
the most brilliant victories gained by French armies 
during the long period between the day when Luxem- 
bourg defeated William III. at Steinkirk and the day 
when Dumouriez defeated Brunswick at Yalmy. For 
these successes France had nothing to show except 
a considerable increase in debt ; her own boundaries 
had not been enlarged, and the principalities ceded to 
Louis's son-in-law, the Bourbon prince of Spain, were 
rated by the French people at their just value to them- 
selves, and that was nothing at all. The announce- 
ment, therefore, that some of the war taxes were to be 
continued indefinitely, and that a further loan was 
needed to settle the arrears of indebtedness, was re- 
ceived with sullen discontent. An attempt was made 
to render these impositions more equitable, and this 
at least met with public approval, but the government 
was unable to modify its ancient principles, and a 
laudable effort residted in a lamentable failure. It 
deserves consideration, for it involved the questions 
of privilege which were deeply seated in the French 
system, and it illustrated the change in public senti- 
ment which ere long was to result in the destruction 
of aU privileges. 

In 1749, Machault was comptroller general. The 
national debt had been largely increased during the 
late war, and the principles of economy which enabled 
Fleury to balance the budget were no longer in vogue. 


It was certain that a minister who owed his position 
to Mme. de Pompadour's favor would not hold it long 
if he insisted on any large reduction in the expenses 
of the court. Machault was, however, an intelligent 
man and possessed of considerable boldness, and he 
resolved on a vigorous endeavor to subject to taxation 
some part of the wealth of the kingdom, which thus 
far had escaped. In that year an edict was issued 
imposing a tax of five per cent, on all incomes with- 
out regard to any privilege or exemption.^ The pro- 
ceeds were devoted to the payment of the debt incurred 
during the war, and the preamble stated that this im- 
position was chosen in preference to any other, because 
it was equal and just and fell on all subjects of the 
crown in proportion to their ability to pay.^ Income 
taxes had been several times imposed, and to this edict 
of 1749 the nobility as an order made no opposition ; 
and yet, even when it was admitted in theory that a 
particular tax should fall upon the rich in the same 
proportion as upon the poor, it was impossible to 
enforce this in practice. So imperfect was the assess- 
ment for purposes of taxation that a person of influ- 
ence could easily escape a large share of the burden. 
" Your tender heart," wrote a nobleman to an official, 
" would never consent that a father of my rank should 
be taxed strictly for the twentieth, like one of the com- 
mon people." 3 Such appeals, when backed by rank 
and social influence, rarely failed to be efficacious. 
One instance of the mode of assessment under a sim- 
ilar tax, also imposed for war purposes, will show how 
the rich in great part escaped the burden. The pres- 

1 Edict of May, 1749. 

2 Anc. loisfran., xxii. 225. 

^ Cited by De Tocqueville, Uancien regime. 


ident, Segiir, was the owner of extensive vine lands, and 
received from them an income of at least one hundred 
and sixty thousand livres. In 1734, Si£ter much wran- 
gling, he was assessed for sixteen thousand ; in the 
following year he obtained a reduction to twelve thou- 
sand ; not satisfied with that, he wrote one of the 
ministers, who ordered it to be reduced to ten thou- 
sand ; in 1748, by dint of persistence, the assessment 
had been worked down to four thousand livres.^ This 
is not an extreme instance; a tax which nominally 
fell upon the privileged classes became almost a deri- 
sory impost so far as they were concerned. " The 
capitation," Turgot wrote in 1767, "which it was 
intended should be borne by all, and from which the 
nobility is not exempt by law, practically falls upon 
those subject to the taille. In the generality of Limo- 
ges the nobility is highly taxed, if one compares their 
contributions with those paid by nobles of equal for- 
tune in other provinces, but if the capitation paid by 
a gentleman is compared with that paid by a peasant, 
it will be seen that the gentlemen pay in so different a 
proportion that it amounts practically to exemption 
from a tax which the law intended to impose on all 
subjects of the king." ^ 

The position of the clergy was different ; their ex- 
emption from taxation, if not unquestioned, had never 
been successfully attacked, and they would not con- 
cede any right in the crown to subject them to this 
imposition ; they were a united and a powerful body, 
they had to deal with a weak and timorous king, and 
they now opposed with uncompromising resistance the 

^ Orry to Boucher, 1734, 1735, etc., cited by Fourcade, Le 

dixieme dans la generalite de Guyenne. 
2 Turgot to Ormesson, August 10, 1767. 


policy which Machault sought to enforce. Quarter 
of a century before, an attempt had been made to 
subject the property of the church to taxation ; it had 
failed, nor was it strange that such an endeavor at the 
beginning of the reign of Louis XV. should have 
been unsuccessful. The exemption of church property 
from ordinary taxation had for centuries been a part 
of the institutions of the kingdom. It had been rec- 
ognized at the court of Charlemagne and unques- 
tioned by the parliaments of Philip the Fair ; that' the 
property held by the church should not be seized by 
the sacrilegious hand of the state had been repeatedly 
declared by Louis XIV., and had been solemnly ac- 
knowledged by Louis XV. ; so far as France could be 
regarded as having any fixed constitution independ- 
ent of the will of the king, the immunity of church 
property from taxation formed a part of it. It was 
held for the service of God, and only a godless ruler 
would claim that the state could impose upon it the 
same burdens as upon property held by the merchant 
or the husbandman for his private gain and profit. 

Yet the necessities of the state had often been 
severe, and the wealth of the church had always been 
great, and this exemption had been purchased at the 
cost of free-will offerings, so-called, which a loyal clergy 
voted for the aid of their king. Not only were such 
offerings granted by the consent of those who had to 
pay them, but they were far less than the contribu- 
tions exacted from other property of equal value. The 
church owned one fourth of the French soil, and two 
hundred million livres is a low estimate of the income 
which the clergy derived from their own land and 
from the tithes which they levied on the land of 
others. Their contribution to the needs of the state 


/^as insignificant ; while it was estimated that the 
direct taxes took ahnost one half of the produce of 
a piece of land belonging to a peasant, the amount 
of the annual gift voted by the clergy during the 
eighteenth century averaged less than four million 
livres a year. Owning one fourth of the soil, the 
church did not pay more than one thirtieth of the 
jdirect taxes ; it is safe to say that the burden of 
jtaxation on a peasant was twenty times as heavy as 
'on a priest.^ Allowing for errors in calculations which 
it is impossible to make exact, the disproportion was 

An attempt to disregard privileges so long respected 
would not have been made if the ministry had not 
represented feelings which began to agitate the com- 
munity. " These pretended privileges," wrote a Paris- 
ian, whose views always closely reflected the change 
in popular sentiment, " are visionary. The imposi- 
tions on property should be divided among all the 

^ Collection des proces verbaux du clerge. This annual gift did 
not include certain contributions to the rentes of the Hotel de 
Ville and other purposes, nor the payments made by the clerge 
etranger of Artois, Flanders, Alsace, and other provinces which 
had been recently added to France. Against this must be reck- 
oned the amount contributed by the king towards paying the 
interest on the debt which the clergy had incurred for some of 
its advances. In a recent article in the Revue des Questions His- 
toriques, the writer seeks to show that the contributions of the 
clergy during the reign of Louis XV. and Louis XVI. amounted 
to as much as seven per cent, of their revenues. Even if these 
figures were correct, the contribution paid by a bishop with an 
income of one hundred thousand livres would not have been one 
seventh as heavy proportionally as that paid by a peasant who 
earned five hundred livres. But this percentage can only be ob- 
tained by undervaluing the wealth of tlie French church. The 
estimates made by Taine and Avenel are far more accurate. 


subjects of the king in proportion to what each has. 
In England the lands of the clergy, the nobility, and 
of the third estate pay equally and without distinc- 
tion. Nothing is more just." ^ Such views would 
have found no utterance a century before, and they 
indicate a newly developed desire for equality before 
the law, a feeling which gained strength in France 
much later than in England. 

/ Apart from this, the hold of the church upon the 
people was weaker than in the seventeenth century, 
and in considering this change of sentiment it is well 
I to examine somewhat the condition of the Gallican 
I clergy during the reign of Louis XY. While the 
; diminished influence exercised by the church was in 
■part due to the skeptical literature that began to 
assume importance, yet the clergy themselves made 
success easy for their assailants. If the bitterness 
with which Voltaire and his followers attacked religion 
is now distasteful, even to those who have discarded 
any religious belief, it must be remembered that the 
organization which embodied Christianity in the days 
of Voltaire was very different from any organization 
that now calls itself Christian. Certainly the char- 
acter of the higher clergy had deteriorated, when we 
compare them with their predecessors in the century 
before. Not only were the great men lacking, not 
only had the Bossuets and Fenelons left no successors, 
but the influences which controlled the selection of 
men for the highest clerical offices had changed ; their 
holders were less liberal and more worldly ; the era of 
persecution, of which the revocation of the Edict of 
j Nantes formed a part, left its marks for evil on the 
clergy of the dominant church. 

^ Journal de Barbier, August, 1750. 


V The early part of the seventeenth century witnessed 

■the establishment of the Oratory, and the exhaustless 

charities of St. Vincent de Paul ; it developed men of 

powerful thought and stern piety like St. Cyran and 

Arnauld, and the inmates of Port Koyal and La 

Trappe. There were no such manifestations in the 

Gallican church during the century which followed 

the revocation of the edict. The influence of the 

Jesuits grew stronger, and the higher dignities fell to 

^ those who were willing to be their docile pupils. In 

\ a large degree the great benefices were bestowed as 

1 marks of favor and not as rewards of capacity. The 

'^energies of the church, instead of being given to the 

\work of charity or to the cause of pure religion, were 

jchiefly consumed in a bitter struggle to crush out the 

/relics of Jansenism by compelling all to accept the 

/dogmas of the Unigenitus. The clergy manifested 

I more zeal in persecuting heretics than in purifying 

I morab. 

\ These attempts at persecution excited a constant 
opposition in the community. The French mind has 
never shown any marked interest in metaphysical sub- 
tleties, and certainly no one would for a moment 
believe that Parisians of the eighteenth century were 
really disturbed by questions concerning predestination 
or preserving grace, but the persistence with which a 
majority of the clergy refused the privileges of reli- 
gion to those who would not accept one hundred and 
one propositions that no one understood, not even the 
Pope who had pronounced them, weakened the hold 
which the church had once possessed. At the same 
time that the French clergy were resisting any at- 
tempt to subject their property to the laws which 
affected the property of their fellows, they sought to 


stir into new activity the odious regulations against 
the Protestants. In 1750, at the request of some of 
the bishops, troops were sent into the Cevennes to 
surpi-ise Protestant gatherings in the wilderness; a 
few of these outcasts for their faith were shot, and 
one clergyman was captured and hanged. During the 
eight years preceding, six hundred Protestants had 
been imprisoned for various offenses against the dom- 
inant creed. These persecutions were indeed sporadic, 
but if the dragonnades of Louvois were not repeated, 
it was not from lack of exhortation on the part of the 

,;.>''There were other reasons for the lower estimation in 

\ which the church was held, and these were found in 
the character and conduct of many of its clergy. For 
the most part these strictures must be confined to the 
higher clergy, but naturally what impressed the com- 
munity was the conduct of the great ecclesiastical dig- 
nitaries. A cure of Tours might furnish a pattern of 
the most edifying Christian conduct, but if the Bishop 
of Tours was a man of worldly life, wasting great 
revenues in profane pleasures, and spending more 
time in Mme. de Pompadour's chamber at Versailles 
than in ministering to his flock in Touraine, the evil 

^ of the one example far outdid any benefit that might 

Hje derived from the other. 

The l^wer clergy at this period were often ignorant, 
but with few exceptions they were sincere, jn their 
faith and zealous in their ministrations. They were 
not stimulated by the hope of temporal advantages, 
for the miserable pay received by most of the cures 
and vicars was a reproach to the church. As is often 
the case when some members of a religious establish- 
ment receive compensation which is out of proportion 


to any work they do, others are left in a condition of 
more than apostolic poverty. The inadequate provi- 
sion made for the inferior clergy in France had long 
excited the attention of the laity, without at all dis- 
turbing the composure of ecclesiastical dignitaries. 
As far back as 1614, the last States General had com- 
plained of the poverty in which the humble workers 
in the church were left, and had askedvthat an income 
of at least two hundred livres should be secured to 
every village cure. A century and a half passed, and 
the position of the lower clergy was no better ; a large 
proportion of cur^s received less than five hundred 
francs a year, and many of the vicars received less than 
two hundred, and of this small allowance a larger 
percentage went in charity than was contributed by 
many bishops who added to the great revenues of 
their sees the emoluments of half a dozen abbeys. 
Voltaire's cure, who, for forty ducats a year, had to 
work by night and day, in the heat of the sun and in 
the rain and snow, who was often required to go long 
distances from his beggarly home, and found no res- 
pite from severe and exhausting labor, was not an 
exaggerated case. 

In marked contrast with the lot of these ill-paid and 
overworked priests was the condition of the rulers of 
the church, who now protested against contributing 
from their superfluity to the burdens of the state. In 
the eighteenth century, even more than in the seven- 
teenth, the higher clergy were members of the aris- 
tocracy. In 1789, the Almanach Royal gives us the 
names of one hundred and thirty French bishops, and 
every one was of iioblo family; there were Rochefou- 
caulds and Rohans and Talleyrands, but -there were 
none of humble birth. Such had not been the tradi- 


tion of the Catholic Church; for centuries no great 
organization had been so democratic, in no other in- 
stitution had so many worked their way to the largest 
influence and the highest honors by mere force of 
intellect and by fitness for their work. Even under 
Louis XIV., in religious as in political office, the 
choice was'v.much less restricted than under his suc- 
cessor ; in his reign the nobility complained, and not 
without some justice, that at times their rank operated 
as a hindrance to their preferment. There was no 
ground for such complaints under Louis XV., and 
plebeian bishops became unknown. 

As with the bishoprics, so with the important and 
lucrative ecclesiastical offices ; in the eighteenth cen- 
tury, these were regarded as good things which should 
be reserved for the upper classes. " Abbeys are in- 
tended for people of quality," said Boyer, the Bishop 
of Mirepoix, to a plebeian applicant.^ It is curious 
that in the latter part of Louis XV. 's reign, when 
books extolling equality were read and praised by 
persons of rank, as much as by discontented and 
ambitious plebeians, preferment, both in the army and 
in the church, was reserved for the aristocracy with a 
strictness previously unknown in France. 

Certainly, the fact that a man was a gentleman by 
birth, that his ancestors had led armies in the Holy 
Land and ruled provinces in France, that his kinsmen 
were dukes and princes, did not unfit him to be a 
pious and a faithful bishop, and no more did it fit 
him to become one. There was no reason that a 
bishop should not be a gentleman by birth, and on 
the other hand, the mere fact that he was a gentleman 

^ Bernis, Mem., \. 83 ; Mem. de Rochefoucauld, i. 117 ; Mem. 
d*Augeardy Campan, etc. 


was no reason for making him a bishop. The higher 
clergy under Louis XV. had the virtues and the vices 
of the order to which they belonged by birth, and 
when great ecclesiastical offices became the patrimony 
of a social class, it was inevitable that many of the 
incumbents should be more interested in their tempo- 
ralities than in their duties. 

The rewards were so great that they might well 
satisfy even those who desired the utmost of worldly 
pomp and display. In the eighteenth century, the 
average incomes of the one hundred and thirty bishops 
of France can be stated at one hundred thousand 
livres, and at a low estimate this would be equivalent 
to two hundred thousand francs or forty thousand 
doUaH'lit the present date.^ The revenues of the 
eighteen archbishops were still larger. The arch- 
bishopric of Paris was worth three hundred thousand 
livPesVthat of Cambrais half as much, and the man 
holding one of these great sees was a poor courtier if 
he did not obtain the gift of numerous abbeys and 
livings, with which to increase the regular emoluments 
of his office. In 1788, the Almanach Koyal tells us 
that the Archbishop of Norbonne added to one hundred 
and sixty thousand livres from his see one hundred and 
twenty thousand from his abbeys. The Archbishop 
of Kouen supplemented his episcopal income of one 
hundred thousand, by one hundred and thirty thou- 
sand from other livings. The list could be continued, 
and in this respect there was no difference between the 
conditions which prevailed in 1788 and half a century 

The wealth of some ecclesiastics far exceeded even 

^ There were some bishoprics of which the income was small, 
but these were exceptional. 


these figures. The bishopric of Strasburg was almost 
hereditary iu the great family of Rohan. In 1780, 
the income of Cardinal Rohan, who then heH tEat 
see, was over eight hundred thousand livres ; his 
palace at Strasburg was exceeded in magnificence 
by few in France ; he could entertain seven hundred 
guests in it, and often all of these accommodations 
were required by his lavish hospitality ; one hundred 
and eighty horses stood in his stables ; his frequent 
entertainments were marked by more splendor than 
those of the wealthy laity, and by quite as little 
decorum.^ At Rome, Cardinal Bouillon had twenty- 
nine pages and sixty valets to support his dignity. 
Bernis, though he gave more heed to rendering life 
agreeable for his guests by the charms of the conver- 
sation than by the splendor of the surroundings, main- 
tained an establishment for the expense of which five 
hundred thousand livres barely sufiiced. A bishop 
was a grand seigneur ; his life and his traditions were 
those of a wealthy and worldly aristocracy. 

Most of the bishops and archbishops were indeed 
decorous in their conduct and sincere in their faith. 
The evil livers were comparatively few, yet even with 
the most creditable members of the higher clergy, the 
size of their incomes and the splendor of their lives 
made their position very different from that now 
occupied by the hard-working and poorly paid epis- 
copate of France. 

As these dignities were bestowed by favor, there 
was a large proportion of young bishops ; if a man 
was to become a bishop at all, he generally received 
his promotion before he was forty, and frequently 
when much younger. Not often was a priest elevated 
^ Mem. de Val/ons ; Mem. de Georgel. 


to this dignity when past fifty; the office was re- 
garded as a benefit to be bestowed by the monarch 
on his faithful nobility, and not as a reward for ser- 
vice in the work of the church, and the man whose 
rank entitled him to ask for such a position usually 
obtained it early in his career. 

It would be unfair to judge a body of men by the 
conduct of some members, yet when the higher clergy 
were thus recruited, it would have been impossible 
that their modes of thought and life should greatly 
differ from those of their class. The younger son of 
a nobleman was chosen to represent the family in the 
church. If the older brother died, the future bishop 
would become a duke instead ; he would exchange the 
church for the army, and he would be quite as well 
fitted for the latter profession as the former. But if 
he did not succeed to the family titles and honors, he 
chose religion as a vocation, and by the time he was 
twenty, he was given a well-endowed abbey. The 
duties were nominal, and, if the income was suffi- 
cient, the abbe passed his days at the court, leading a 
life which differed little from that of his brother, the 
colonel. If he made his way, he soon became a royal 
almoner ; he was on good terms with the favorite ; oc- 
casionally he pronounced a sermon in the royal chapel, 
in which well-turned sentences were interspersed with 
judicious references to Louis the Well Beloved. At 
thirty-five, our abbe became a bishop with an income 
of one hundred thousand livres ; he might lead a life 
free from scandal, but his career had not fitted him to 
exercise any strong religious influence upon his flock. 
It was natural that many bishops should form a 
part of the court at Versailles, like the other members 
^of the noble families to which they belonged and from 


whicli they were chosen. In 1750, one fourth of the 

French bishops are reported as having their residence 

at Versailles and not in their dioceses, and of those 

who nominally resided among their flocks, many found 

relief from the tedium of provincial existence by long 

stays in the more congenial atmosphere of the court. 

As we read of some of these great ecclesiastics, we 

are not surprised that their spiritual influence was 

small. It was not often that these worldly prelates 

•found time for episcopal visits, and when they could 

I no longer be postponed, the bishop went the rounds of 

fhis diocese, drawn by six horses, with officers riding 

I in front to announce the approach of his eminence. 

i The spectacle was splendid, but not spiritual. At the 

] palace of the Bishop of Langres there was music twice 

I a week, and the gambling-table always stood ready 

\ for the amusement of his guests. The charms of the 
I episcopal palace of Viviers, when occupied by Lafont 
\ de Savins, were often told. Both taste and money 
\ had been liberally expended in adding to the attrac- 
\ tions of the grounds ; the bishop had even seen to it 
; that the groves should be thickly stocked with night- 
ingales ; within the palace music and dancing went 
on until late, the beautiful sister of a neighboring 
abbe was prominent in all entertainments, and the 
manner in which she sang romances and accompanied 
them on the harp always gave great pleasure to the 
guests.^ The Bishop of Troyes celebrated the resto- 
ration of his nephew to health by the performance of 
a comic opera at his home.^ The Bishop of Mans was 
an ardent sportsman, and one Sunday, when hunting, 
he met a procession marching with cross and banner 

^ Le Schisme constitutionnel dans VArdeche. 
2 Nouvelles ecclesiastiques, 1762. 


and singing the litany of the Virgin ; he did not wait, 
and the bearers of cross and religious symbols had to 
stop until the bishop of the flock, with his dogs and 
his huntsmen, had crossed the road.^ A similar inci- 
dent occurred to Cardinal Rohan when he was minis- 
ter at Vienna, and the scandal caused by his riding 
through a religious procession was among the many 
grievances Maria Theresa had against him. 

A certain analogy can be drawn between the con- 
dition of the higher clergy in France not long prior 
to the Revolution, and the position of many of the 
great dignitaries among the Italian clergy before the 
Reformation. We must allow for differences in time 
and in race. The courtly bishops of Louis XV. were 
not altogether like the followers of Leo X. ; the life 
of elegant amusement which was led by Cardinal 
Rohan was not the career of finished scholarship and 
refined luxury of Cardinal Bembo ; the dissipations 
of the Abbe Count of Clermont were not the vices 
of a Borgia ; but at Paris, as at Rome, there was the 
same want of strong religious feeling, the same readi- 
ness to appropriate the wealth intended for the uses 
of piety in order to obtain the pleasures of the world, 
and in both cases the example set by the rulers of the 
church lessened the hold upon the people of the insti- 
tution which they represented.^ 

If the bishops often gave little heed to the spiritual 
welfare of their flocks, still less zeal could be expected 
from the great body of abbes and inferior dignitaries, 
who enjoyed a large portion of the revenues of the 

^ Histoire de V Eglise de Mans, vi. 528 ; Campan, Mem.y i. 68. 

2 This account of the higher clergy should be confined to the 
reign of Louis XV. ; even during the short reign of Louis XVI., 
there was some improvement in their average character. 


church without the pretense of taking any part in 
church work. It would be unfair to take the career 
of the Abbe Count of Clermont as a specimen of the 
French clergy, for his connection with the church was 
purely nominal. If as Abbot of St. Germain he sup- 
ported dancers of the ballet in splendid luxury, he 
made no pretense to virtue, he was not a priest, he 
chose the career of a soldier, and took no more part 
in religious work than Marshal Belle Isle or Maurice 
de Saxe ; but he enjoyed a great share of the church's 
wealth, for which exemption from taxation was asked 
because it was needed for God's service. The liv- 
ings of the Count of Clermont yielded him an in- 
come greater than two hundred thousand dollars 
would be to-day, and this he spent in riotous living. 
When immunity from the burdens of the state was de- 
manded in behalf of wealth that was squandered on 
the first lady of the ballet in a manner to scandalize 
all Paris, it was evident that such claims no longer 
rested on any just ground, that this talk of exemp- 
tions required for God's service was a nauseous false- 
hood, and it needed no political prophet to see that 
this condition of things could not much longer endure. 
It was bad when the lives of men, who nominally 
had devoted themselves to religious work, were full of 
scandal; it was worse when men without religious 
belief asked for the punishment of those who refused 
to accept doctrines in which the persecutors them- 
selves had no faith. The Archbishop of Toulouse led 
a life no more edifying than that of his brother of 
Mans, and in private he scoffed at the doctrines of 
Christianity, yet he exhorted the king to finish the 
work of Louis the Great and blot out all trace of 
Protestantism from the land ; the cry of intolerance, 


when it proceeded from those who disregarded the 
demands of morality and refused to acknowledge the 
truth of the doctrines they preached, made their posi- 
tion not only anomalous, but odious.^ 

If great ecclesiastical revenues had been required 
for the support of the clergy, or had been largely em- 
ployed in charitable works, in the care of the sick and 
the relief of the poor, the immunity from taxation 
which they had so long enjoyed would still have had 
reasons for its existence. But as a rule the poor re- 
ceived a larger proportion of the scanty stipends of 
the curates than of the great incomes of the princes 

il of the church. " Cardinal Soubise is dead," writes 
I Argenson ; " he left three millions in cash and not a 
sou for the poor." ^ Doubtless many wealthy prelates 
* gave somewhat to good works ; in many of the institu- 
tions of the regular clergy the ancient traditions of a 
; liberal charity were by no means extinct, but as a rule 
j the wealth of the church was used neither for the 
greater glory of God nor the greater good of man, 
except of the few fortunate possessors of opulent bish- 
oprics, rich abbeys, and well-paid ecclesiastical sine- 

Even within the church the contributions paid the 
state fell in undue proportion on the poorer members. 

* It was of the Archbishop of Toulouse that Louis XVI. said, 
when his claims were urged for the see of Paris, " The Arch- 
bishop of Paris must believe in God." Due de L^vis, Souvenirs^ 

2 Journal, July 6, 1756. The cardinal died at thirty-eight, and 
his death, so Argenson says, was due to drink and debauchery 
(ix. 292). 

' Instances of the reluctance of the wealthy clergy to answer 
the demands of charity are given in Taine's Uancien regime, and 
in the cahiers of the States General. 


The Bishop of Verdun, with almost sixty thousand 
livres of revenue, contributed only one hundred and 
eighty towards the payment of the gift to the king ; 
the chapter of the cathedral of Dijon, with over twenty 
thousand of income, paid less than three hundred, and 
the burden of raising the sums voted the government 
was left so entirely to the poorer clergy that an edict 
forbade placing an imposition greater than sixty livres 
on cur^s whose income did not exceed three hundred.^ 
The case of the Bishop of Verdun was probably not 
an extreme one, and at that rate he paid hardly one 
quarter of one per cent, on his income, while an ob- 
scure cure paid twenty per cent. 

Though the church in some degree had lost its hold 
on the community, its organization was sufficiently 
strong to defeat the effort now made to subject its 
property to taxation. The edict of 1749 declared that 
there should be no exemptions from its provisions, 
and this was succeeded in the following year by an- 
other which required all persons holding property 
in mortmain to make a public declaration of their 
revenues, in order to secure a more just contribution 
towards the needs of the state. Six months were 
given the clergy in which to report the property they 
held and the income which it yielded ; the six months 
expired, no reports were made, and there the matter 

The assembly of the church met, and the king de- 
manded from it a contribution of seven million five 
hundred thousand livres ; the clergy refused to give 
anjrthing unless their immunities were ratified and 

^ Declaration^ 1690 ; Deliberation du clerge, 1747 ; Mem. de 
Luynes, 1754 ; Arch, de la Cote d'Or^ cited by Marion, Machault 
d'AmouviUe, 222. 


their exemption from capitation solemnly recognized. 
" Is Christ to be subjected to the taille ? " asked one 
prelate. " We will not consent," said others, " that 
what has been the gift of our respect shall become 
the tribute of our obedience." It needed more vigor- 
ous action than could be expected from the infirm 
government of Louis XV. to enforce obedience to the 
demands that were now made ; the assembly dispersed 
without even voting the free gift which had been ac- 
corded from time immemorial ; as a result of the effort 
to impose a tax by right, the government lost even the 
little which it had been wont to receive as a gratuity. 

There were also potent influences at the court which 
helped to thwart Machault's efforts. The minister, 
said the prelates and confessors who had the ear of 
the sovereign, was but a tool of the atheists and 
philosophers who sought to overthrow all religion, 
and he was seeking to involve the most Christian 
king in hostility with the church that was the firmest 
support of his throne. The time had not yet come 
when the demands of the public, or the writings of 
skeptics, could prevail against the steadfast opposition 
of the clerical organization. In 1755, the assembly of 
the clergy again met, and voted a free gift of sixteen 
million livres to cover a period of three years ; the 
king thanked his faithful clergy for their loving zeal, 
and the effort to impose on the church the burdens 
falling on the rest of the community was not again 
made under the old regime. 

Undoubtedly, if the principle of church immunity 
had been once done away with, other burdens would 
have followed the capitation. Even then it would 
have been the part of wisdom to submit ; the stubborn 
effort made by the clergy and the nobility to hold 


privileges which had no further reason for existence, 
which were unjust and were becoming odious, at last 
involved them in common disaster ; those who had 
too long held unfair advantages were subjected to 
spoliation which was equally unjust ; those who had 
refused to share in the public burdens, at last had 
nothing left for themselves. But a privileged body 
rarely surrenders its advantages, and the clergy at this 
time merely failed to display any extraordinary wis- 
dom or extraordinary magnanimity. 

The contests with the Parliament extended over a 
large part of Louis XV.'s reign, and they raged with 
unusual bitterness in these years of peace. A trouble 
that had become chronic would hardly need any further 
reference, were it not that the disobedience of the 
judges was now marked by unusual boldness of lan- 
guage, and that the conduct of the government was 
characterized by more than its ordinary vacillation. 

The cause of these disputes was found in the ancient 
quarrel over the Unigenitus, and in the bigotry with 
which the clergy sought to enforce its acceptance. 
The Parliament was Jansenist, and so wexa-iihe Pa- 
risian bourgeoisie, while among the clergy the iimu- 
* ence of the Jesuits was supreme. Long before, the 
judges had protested agamsTihe refusal of the sacra- 
ments to the dying who were unprovided with certifi- 
cates from a priest, attesting their acceptance of the 
doctrines of the Unigenitus. A form of persecution, 
as repulsive to humanity as it was contrary to religion, 
was strangely out of place at the very time the Ency- 
clopaedia was appearing, and the influence of the 
church was subjected to attacks more dangerous than 
it had ever been called to withstand. But the Arch- 
Mshop of Paris was a man whose beliefs were as sin- 


r cere as they were narrow ; he was uncompromising in 
I his views, and one of those who, when born out of due 
I season, are fitted to do the utmost harm to the cause 
j they espouse. He bade his clergy to be severe in ex- 
f amining the orthodoxy of those who asked for the last 
sacraments,' and they were often refused the dying. 

Each of these cases aroused the ire of the Parlia- 
ment, and so frequent were they that the care of souls 
occupied almost as much of its time as the administra- 
tion of justice. The cures were admonished by the 
bishop to be firm in their refusal ; the Parliament or- 
dered them to administer the sacraments to the dying 
who demanded them, and punished disobedience by 
severe penalties ; an offending priest often saw his 
small effects seized by the bailiff and sold at public 
vendue because he had obeyed the orders of his arch- 
bishop. In this controversy the king at first espoused 
the cause of the clergy ; edicts of the Parliament were 
;' annulled by orders of the council ; the judges remon- 
j strated, and Louis forbade their interference with mat- 
ters beyond their jurisdiction. The judges constantly 
protested their loyalty, but they met the orders of the 
king with persistent disobedience. 

These disputes became important because they ex- 
cited in a community that sympathized with the courts 
a spirit of insubordinate questioning of which there 
had been few traces in the past. The feeling of dis- 
content was fostered, not only by the quarrels with 
the Parliament, but by the unsatisfactory condition of 
the national finances, the weight of taxation, the grow- 
ing contempt for Louis XV.'s character, and, most of 
all, by the popularity of a literature that questioned the 
foundations of established forms of government and 
belief. " The Jansenist party," said Barbier, who 


was inucli in sympathy with them, " is inclined to be 
republican." ^ Few of them would have admitted 
this ; the very use of the word " republican " when ap- 
plied to a Frenchman was a novelty, but their opposi- 
tion to the government was dangerous to institutions 
of more importance than tickets of confession. 

The language of the Parliament does not seem 
revolutionary to us, yet it was inconsistent with the 
principles of an absolute monarchy. In the laws and 
forms of which the tribunals are the depositaries and 
guardians, said one of their edicts, " is the only cer- 
tainty for the preservation of a just monarchy, for the 
safety of the lives and the liberties of the subjects." ^ 
The complaints of the public were more unrestrained 
and more personal. *' There is no sort of evil and 
indecent talk that is not heard in Paris about the 
king," says a Parisian ; " they are fanatical against 
the authority of the sovereign." ^ 

In this condition of feeling some foresaw danger 
for the futui-e, and in 1752, Argenson declared that 
the changes in public opinion might grow until they 
produced revolution. But in truth no violent altera- 
tion in the form of government was as yet practica- 
ble ; if a demand for reform could be heard, it was 
still possible to appease it, and by a modification of 
existing institutions to prevent their overthrow. 

If the courts no longer yielded the prompt obedi- 
ence which the sovereign demanded, they were encour- 
aged in their resistance by the vacillation of the gov- 
ernment. Louis XIV. had suppressed the political 
activity of the Parliaments with a stern hand, and 

1 Barbier, July, 1762. 

2 Arret, March 5, 1752. 

* Barbier, June, 1754 ; December, 1756. 


they submitted to an authority that was resolved to en- 
force its decrees ; but the administration of Louis XV. 
neither conciliated nor intimidated its adversaries. 
/ In the contest between the church and the judiciary 
the sympathy of the king was naturally with the 
clergy ; he was a bigoted Catholic, and he had always 
been surrounded by members of the ultramontane 
party. The Parliament was repeatedly ordered to 
[abstain from interference with matters of religious 
doctrine. Little disturbed by such injunctions, it in 
turn forbade the Archbishop of Paris causing further 
' scandal by refusals to allow the sacraments to be ad- 
ministered to the dying. As he declined to comply 
with such orders, the officers of the court were bidden 
I to seize his property as a penalty of disobedience, and 
■ the peers of the kingdom were invited to meet with 
- the judges and confer on fit measures to be adopted. 
These decrees were promptly annulled, and in May, 
1753, the judges declared they would attend to no 
further business, and the courts were closed. The king 
ordered them to resume their duties, and on their re- 
fusal a large number were banished to various parts 
of the country, and the sittings of the Parliament were 
transferred to Pontoise. As its members were stub- 
born in their resolution not to hold sessions anywhere, 
this measure was not important. 

Closino: the courts caused serious embarrassment in 

the large part of France subject to the jurisdiction of 
j the Parliament of Paris. Not only was a stop put to 
f litigation, but thousands of persons were dependent 
' on the courts for their livelihood, and now found 
\ themselves without occupation. The judges, with their 
families, their servants, and many minor officials, re- 
moved to Pontoise or their various places of banish- 


ment, and the Parisian shopkeepers calculated that 
they were thus deprived of twenty thousand consum- 
ers of their wares.^ — ~— — --^ 

It was at this time of political agitation that the 
ill-fated Louis XVI. was born. On the 8th of Sep- 
temFefTthe dsuphine gave birth to a second son, who 
received the title of the Duke of Aquitaine, and who 
subsequently by his brother's death became the dau- 
phin. The popular discontent over the courts did 
not prevent the ordinary manifestations of joy at the 
birth of a son in the royal family. All the houses 
\of the city were illuminated, the hotels were magnifi- 
cently decorated, and in the public places until late 
in the night, by a clear moon, the violins twanged 
and the populace danced and drank. No one who saw 
the Parisian populace rejoicing over the birth of the 
new prince, with the river from the Pont Neuf to the 
Bourbon palace aglow with magnificent illuminations, 
with crowds alike of bourgeois and nobles watching 
the popular demonstrations of joy, and an innumer- 
able throng of carriages driving through the streets 
that their occupants might enjoy the splendor of this 
demonstration, would have imagined that within forty 
years, in the same city, this unfortunate child would be 
executed to satisfy a popidar demand for his blood. 

The struggle between the courts and the king was 
long continued ; not until late in the following year 
were the judges recalled from their exile and was the 
ordinary administration of justice resumed. An en- 
deavor had been made to confer upon a newly created 
Royal Chamber the jurisdiction which the Parliament 
refused to exercise, but it met with poor success. The 
people were attached to the old courts and mistrustful 
1 Barbier, May, 1753 ; Mtm. de Bernis, i. 331. 


of the new judges ; litigants were unwilling to appear 
before them, and when the members of the Parliament 
were at last recalled, Louis in substance conceded the 
points from which the struggle had grown, and they 
resumed their seats in triumph. 

The king now declared, by an edict of September, 
1754, that there should be an end of these controver- 
sies, and forbade all innovations in matters of religion. 
This was interpreted by the judges as tacitly for- 
bi dding ticke ts^iLfiQaf ession , and such practically was 
the construction put upon it by the administration. 

The Archbishop of Paris could no more be silenced 
by edicts than could the Parliament, and he was now 
sent into exile for contumacy. He retired to Lagny 
in compliance with the royal commands, but he per- 
sisted in ordering his cures to demand the obnox- 
ious tickets of confession. The Parliament took rig- 
orous measures against the clergy who obeyed their 
bishop. Decrees were pronounced against the offend- 
ing priests, and if they fled to avoid their effect, they 
were punished like the vilest criminals. 

The vicars of St. Etienne were condemned to per- 
petual banishment, and for greater ignominy the decree 
was attached to the gallows by the hangman. An- 
other offending priest was sentenced for contumacy to 
the galleys, and a letter of the Archbishop of Auch, 
protesting against these measures of the Parliament, 
was delivered to the hangman to be burned. The 
king sought to restore religious tranquillity, but the 
judges and the Jansenists, in their triumph, were as 
eager for persecution as the Archbishop of Paris. ^ 

^ The incidents of the long contest between the clergy and 
the judges are fully described in the Journals of Barbier and 
Argenson during these years. 


Such affronts offered the clergy would have irri- 
tated a community in which respect for the church 
was strong, but most of the Parisians saw with entire 
unconcern archbishops' letters burned by the hang- 
man, and sentences against priests dangling from the 
gallows. The popular ill will was indeed manifested 
chiefly among the Jesuits, but the Jesuits were now 
supreme in the Gallican Church, and the secular 
clergy were only tools in their hands. Moreover, 
the influence of a skeptical literature was already 
strong ; the philosophers made no distinction between 
Jesuit and Jansenist, and erelong the community was 
ready to treat both in the same manner. 

In the years following the war of the Austrian Suc- 
cession, we can notice the presence of new political 
ideas, even the use of new political terms, which 
marked the beginning of the intellectual disquiet that 
in less than forty years resulted in revolution. Most 
of the writers whose works had so large an influence 
on political thought now became recognized forces 
in society. - In 1751 began the publication of the 
Encyclopaedia. It soon encountered the anathemas 
oFtRe church ; it was repeatedly put under the ban of 
the government ; but, whether allowed or forbidden, 
the work progressed, and in its volumes were found 
discussions of every question of religion and politics 
and society, with little regard for existing beliefs. 

Heretofore, the established forms of government, 
like the established tenets of religion, had been re- 
ceived almost without question. Doubtless Bayle's 
dissolving criticism had its influence on the French 
mind ; the " Persian Letters " contained satires on 
many phases of society and government which would 
not have been tolerated nor expressed under Louis 


XIV. ; even the earlier writings of Voltaire were de- 
structive in their tendencies. But such works had not 
largely modified the feelings of the public towards 
church or state. It was only when a body of influen- 
tial writers discussed the nature of government and 
the foundations of religious belief with a freedom un- 
known in the past, that the public began to question 
the wisdom of institutions that had seemed free from 
danger of overthrow. 

Curiously enough, Mi ne, de Pompad our, whose 
career might seem the crowning evil of the system 
that made it possible, was by no means an enemy of 
the new school of philosophers. '' After all, she was 
one of us," said Voltaire ; and so she was. The fa- 
vorite was always ready to extend her protection to 
the great iconoclast. Doubtless it was by adroit flat- 
tery that Voltaire won her good will, but she was not 
disquieted by writings which others regarded as sub- 
versive of order and religion. Louis XV. perhaps 
understood better the danger with which they were 
fraught to the system of which he was the represen- 
tative, and he was, moreover, a man who viewed all 
innovators with ill will. It was the royal opposition 
that long kept Voltaire from the seat in the Academy 
to which his literary prominence so manifestly entitled 
him. "If M. de Voltaire does not belong to the 
Academy," asked a German prince in amazement, 
" who does belong ? " One might well have wondered 
where forty men could be found more deserving of 
literary honor than the most famous of French writ- 
ers. At last the king was persuaded to withdraw his 
veto»..and, in 1746, Voltaire was formally admitted 
among the immortals. In 1745, Mme. de Pompadour 
procured for him the position of historiographer,' and 


he became a regular member of the court ; he was a 
gentleman of the chamber^ and entitled to his place 
among those who stood around the sovereign. But 
if Voltaire could not long remain an inmate of Sans 
Souci, it was still more imjjossible for him to continue 
a member of the court of Versailles, and, much against 
his own will, he soon left it forever. 

Voltaire was not the only one of the philosophers 
to whom Mme. de Pompadour extended her favor, 
and there were few of them who suffered from her 
ill will. The vices and follies of her career were 
helping to undermine the old regime, and at the same 
time she bestowed her patronage on a revolutionary 
literature aimed at the entire overthrow of existing 
institutions. It is curious to reflect that while this 
frivolous woman was acting as a sort of burlesque 
prime minister, social and political changes were be- 
ginning that were to revolutionize France, and to 
influence modern society more profoundly than any 
events since the religious reformation of the sixteenth 

These changes must be considered elsewhere. While 
philosophers were discussing theories of governing, a 
war began which severely tested existing institutions, 
and, though long brewing, it found the government 
of Louis XV. unprepared. 

It was a serious misfortune for the French that the 
last great soldier under the old regime did not live to 
take part in the last great war of the French mon- 
archy. Maurice de Saxe was indeed a foreigner by 
birth, but France was his adopted country, and he had 
acquired such fame in his profession that no intrigues 
could have kept him from the command of the army 
when France was at war. Mme. de Pompadour would 


not have sent a Soubise to oppose a Frederick if 
Maurice had lived, and the disaster of Rossbach 
would have been averted. 

Marshal Saxe might have anticipated a long life, if 
a frame of extraordinary vigor had not been impaired 
by a career of unusual dissipation ; his physique was 
as powerful as it was imposing, his feats of strength 
seemed legendary, he was a true son of Augustus the 
Strong, and it was said he could bend a horseshoe in 
his hands. At the close of the war of the Austrian 
Succession, Maurice retired to Chambord, which had 
been bestowed upon him as a reward for his success, 
there to enjoy his fame and the career of amusement 
for which he was as eager at fifty as when he had been 
the youthful lover of Adrienne Lecouvreur. The 
famous chateau of Chambord had many illustrious 
occupants, but none of them were more unlike than 
Marshal Saxe and his immediate predecessor. The 
last tenant had been Stanislaus, under whom the 
Chambord once occupied by Diana of Poitiers resem- 
bled the abode of a pious and contented bourgeois ; 
order and economy prevailed, the inmates were fre- 
quent in prayer, their pleasures were not exciting and 
were always innocent. 

The old palace of the Valois beheld very different 
scenes when it was occupied by the hero of Fontenoy. 
Maurice had gone through life filled with dreams of 
royalty ; he had ranged from Madagascar to the 
islands of the Antilles in search of a land of which he 
might become the sovereign. These hopes had been 
disappointed, but at Chambord he gratified himself 
by assuming some of the insignia of royalty as well 
as the panoply of warfare. He was allowed to keep 
there a regiment of soldiers, the ramparts were pa- 


trolled by sentinels, cannon guarded the entrance, 
flags captured from many nations adorned the halls, 
and, amid these martial surroundings, he divided his 
time between reviewing his troops and indulging in 
other and less harmful pleasures. Not only soldiers 
but singers and actresses made up the court of the 
ruler of Chambord. Maurice loved low company, so 
Grimm said, partly from choice and partly from 
pride ; bacchanalians were to his taste, and he desired 
also to have about him only those who yielded the 
submission of subjects. 

One of the marshal's innumerable intrigues pos- 
sesses a certain interest for posterity. A young singer 
at the opera, named Marie Rinteau, gained his favor, 
and by her he had a daughter who became known as 
Aurora of Saxe. She married an illegitimate son of 
Louis XV. and was the ancestress of George Sand, in 
whose character as well as in whose talent we may 
perhaps find some points of resemblance with the 
famous warrior who was her great-grandfather. 

In 1750, when Maurice was only fifty-four years of 
age, his iron frame succumbed to the infirmities caused 
by his vices. His death left the road clear for such 
generals as Richelieu and Soubise, and perhaps changed 
the course of the Seven Years' war.